FOX may move American Idol 5 to Wednesday and Thursdays; Simon could leave

For American Idol 5, FOX executives are considering “an aggressive relocation of the show from its traditional two-night schedule of Tuesday and Wednesday to Wednesdays and Thursdays,” the New York Times reports. The Thursday episode would be the results show, and reports say that FOX could expand that typically half-hour episode to a full hour permanently, letting Ryan Seacrest kill time for 43 minutes instead of just 21.

The possible move to new nights is one of the reasons why “the network has kept news about its hit talent-contest series almost completely under wraps in the last several months,” the paper reports. The other: Simon Cowell may not be with the series after this season.

That’s in part because he doesn’t yet have a contract, which stems from the lawsuit Fuller filed against Cowell, claiming that Simon’s UK talent search show The X-Factor infringed upon Idol‘s copyright. In addition, while Simon Cowell has “retain[ed] the rights to sign the winner and runner-up of each year’s competition to his record label,” Simon “does not have a deal giving his label such rights” for the fifth season, the paper reports.

As the New York Times notes, “Without a deal for music rights, the associate said, Mr. Cowell would have a strong incentive to leave ‘Idol’ and sell ‘X-Factor’ — starring him — to one of Fox’s competitors in the United States. At least two networks, ABC and NBC, have quietly expressed interest in negotiating to acquire ‘X-Factor,’ which this season has been the most popular show on British television.”

To keep that from happening, FOX is offering Simon “a multimillion-dollar fee to squelch a sale of ‘X-Factor’ in the United States.” Cowell would also get more money; now, he makes “about $8 million a year, [and that] is one of the highest [salaries] in television,” according to the Times.

For Fox’s ‘Idol,’ Success Is Set on a Shaky Pedestal [New York Times]