While he continues to do his tedious fan dance as to who will judge the U.S. X Factor, Simon Cowell has reportedly told Brit broadcaster ITV that he will not be judging this year’s home-grown version. According to the Daily Mail, Cowell has dropped out because of health fears. Coping with running two X Factors on either side of the Atlantic, as well as producing both versions of Got Talent and ITV’s new game show Red Or Black, is too much –- even for the famously workaholic Cowell apparently. ITV mainstay presenters Ant ‘n’ Dec will host Cowell’s new game show, which begins filming in June for a September premiere. Even Cowell’s mother Julie has told him to slow down in case the 51-year-old has a heart attack. Syco tells me that “everything is still being discussed.” Reps for co-producer Talkback Thames and ITV declined to comment on the Mail story, describing it as “speculation.” But one insider tells me that you just have to look at how much overlap there will be between the runs of the Fox and ITV versions to see that it is just not humanly possible, even if Cowell only does the live shows in the U.K. and gets a private plane from ITV to shuttle him between Los Angeles and London every week. The U.S. and UK versions of X Factor both start airing in August and reach their finales at Christmas. Cowell would have to be in two places at the same time for much of the week, I’m told. Deadline revealed last September that Cowell’s focus on the U.S version of X Factor had created “a ticking time bomb” for ITV chiefs. Of the other X Factor judges, also not confirmed to return is Cheryl Cole, increasing speculation that she would join Cowell on the Fox version of the show.
The network is trying to tie The X Factor supremo down to a 3-year deal. Cowell said on Friday that the UK X Factor could move to January 2012 to accommodate next year’s U.S. version. ITV executives have been looking for replacements for its ratings juggernaut, which got 10.8 million viewers on Saturday. Network executives had hoped the talent show would be running out of steam by this Fall’s series 7, giving them greater bargaining power. Cowell, 50, has even coined the nickname Mr ITV because he is so powerful at the station. ITV has assured Cowell it has the extra £4 million a year he wants pumped into The X Factor. “What we’re trying to do is make better shows than we’ve done before,” Cowell told the BBC. “If we can’t do that, there’s no point in doing it.” Given that Cowell’s current £6 million a year contract expires at the end of 2010, you do wonder why it’s taken ITV this long to get their biggest star to renew. Meanwhile, Cowell is investigating getting into the movie business providing he can find the right partner.