NEW YORK -- When Simon Cowell’s in a room, you can bet a bit of snark isn’t too far away.
At Fox’s Upfront presentation Monday afternoon at the Beacon Theatre in New York, the network’s entertainment chairman, Kevin Reilly, invited some of its reality stars to the stage in the cattle call in front of advertisers. “American Idol” didn’t get overlooked.
After Cowell rambled about what could be expected from a format-tweaked “The X Factor” in its upcoming season — “Hopefully, we’ll find someone fantastic, and we’re going to meet a lot of horrible people along the way” — things got a little awkward.
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“Where’s Randy?” Cowell quipped, referring to longtime “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson, who recently announced he would not return to the singing competition series. Cowell, never one to shy from mocking his former employer, generated mild, awkward laughter from his peers onstage and the crowd.
“Ask Kevin,” shot back "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, who was standing next to Cowell.
Jackson, in case your Twitter feed is devoid of such updates (by the way, we’re jealous if that’s the case!), announced last week that he was stepping down from the judges panel after 12 years. The news came after reports that Fox was wiping its judges slate clean, causing many to wonder whether Jackson was really leaving by choice as his statement implied.
Once a ratings dictator, “American Idol” has lost its steam, with this season bringing the second straight year of double-digit declines in audience. During a press call with reporters Monday morning, Reilly downplayed any upcoming bloodshed, saying current judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban are “welcome back.” Eh, that’s sounds very encouraging, right?
"Everything at this point is on the table, and we'll talk about that starting Friday,” Reilly said, indicating the current season's wrap. He also insinuated that the judges panel could reduce back to three.
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