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Simon Cowell to Leave American Idol

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As American Idol returns for its ninth season tonight, judge Simon Cowell says he will leave the popular program next year in order to focus on The X Factor, another singing competition set to debut on Fox in 2011.

The move could poise the 50-year-old Cowell to assume more responsibility and receive higher compensation on the new show, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"Mr. Cowell will serve as executive producer and judge on the U.S. version of The X Factor, the network said," reported the Journal. "Mr. Cowell hasn't been an executive producer for 'Idol' and the additional title suggested he may reap bigger financial gains with 'The X Factor' if the show is a hit in the U.S., as it has been in other parts of the world."

Also on Tuesday, new judge Ellen DeGeneres will make her debut on American Idol, following the departure of judge Paula Abdul.

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