The biggest reality TV battle of 2011 won't be the one between Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina on "American Idol," or between the final two singers on this fall's "The X Factor USA." No, the real reality showdown will likely be between "Idol" creator Simon Fuller and ex-"Idol" judge/"X Factor" producer Simon Cowell, who are about to become embroiled in the TV trial of the century. Cowell's "X Factor" new promo, which gleefully blasts "Idol," is just a hint of what's to come.
The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Fuller is suing Fox, the network that airs both "Idol" and "The X Factor," and production company Fremantle North America, claiming he should be paid an exorbitant fee for "The X Factor USA." According to a suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court this week, Fuller negotiated an executive producer fee and credit on "The X Factor" as part of a settlement of a copyright-infringement lawsuit years ago, back when the original "X Factor" series first aired in Britain. Fuller's new suit claims that Fox and Fremantle are currently refusing to honor that deal in America.
This Simon-versus-Simon feud dates back to Cowell's days on "American Idol's" proto-show, Britain's "Pop Idol," which Cowell left to launch the even more popular "X Factor U.K." Back in a 2005 settlement, Fuller agreed to pull "Pop Idol" off the air, in exchange for a fee on "The X Factor" and a credit on any future American version of "The X Factor"; Cowell, in turn, agreed to stay on "American Idol" for five more seasons (and not launch "The X Factor USA" until 2011). Cowell left "American Idol" last year amid a big feelgood finale sendoff, but now it's apparently all bad vibes between the warring Simons.
"Fox and Fremantle made hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to the creative efforts of Fuller," the suit states, further claiming that "the X Factor show would not be able to broadcast in the United States at all" without Fuller's previous 2005 agreement.
Fox and Fremantle commented about Fuller's lawsuit to The Hollywood Reporter: "Mr. Fuller has not been hired, nor performed any duties, on the U.S. version of 'The X Factor.' His suit seeks payment and credit as an executive producer despite his neither having been approved by the required parties, nor hired, as such. We believe this lawsuit is without merit, and we expect to prevail."
Yikes. So which show will prevail in the end, "Idol" or "The X Factor"? Either way, it seems Fox's real TV drama will definitely be behind the scenes.
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