'American Idol' on the verge of a long-term renewal

american-idol-judges-320.jpg "American Idol" will live on without Simon Cowell, possibly for many years to come.

That was the word Tuesday (Jan. 19) from Robert Sillerman, the chairman and CEO of CKX, which owns "Idol" producer 19 Entertainment. On a conference call with investors, Sillerman said he expects that his company and FOX will work out a deal for a long-term renewal of TV's most popular series by the end of January.

"As talented as Cowell is ...'Idol's' future with this long-term extension is guaranteed," Sillerman said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"American Idol" opened its ninth season last week to 30 million viewers on Tuesday and 26.3 million on Wednesday, which will put it ahead of every other regular series in the week's ratings. Audition shows continue for the next couple weeks, and new judge Ellen DeGeneres will make her first appearance during the show's Hollywood rounds on Feb. 9.

FOX's current deal with "American Idol" runs through next season. The pending agreement would likely extend the show's run for three more years.

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Photo credit: FOX