Simon Cowell is returning as a reality competition judge on American television.
Mr. Cowell, who most TV viewers know from the singing competition “American Idol,” is reportedly taking Howard Stern’s place as a judge on NBC’s competition “America’s Got Talent.”
Cowell co-created the show, which debuted in 2006, with Ken Warwick and Jason Raff, so he’s more than familiar with how it works.
In addition to “Idol,” he has served as a judge on Fox’s “The X Factor” and the British version of that program.
Nick Cannon hosts the show and the other judges are currently Howie Mandel of “Deal or No Deal,” former Spice Girls member Mel B, and Heidi Klum of the reality fashion design competition “Project Runway.”
Cowell's trademark, biting critical remarks, offended some viewers while delighting others.
He is partly responsible for one of the most popular American talent competitions of all time and one that dominated pop culture for years.
Prior to his television days, Cowell was a talent scout and music producer. He produced and helped judge the British TV series “Pop Idol,” which debuted in 2001, and he then helped bring it to America as “American Idol,” debuting a year later.
“American Idol” became a huge hit, spawning such stars as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and anchoring Fox's lineup for years.
The draw of “American Idol” has waned over the years, however. Cowell and original judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson have all departed, and Fox recently announced that the upcoming season of the show will be its last.
Cowell stumbled with the program “The X Factor.” A British version had proven popular with viewers – the twist was that groups or solo artists could audition (the group One Direction came from the British show). The American version of “X” debuted on Fox while “Idol” was still on the air, and Cowell served as a judge with various others who rotated in and out. Ratings declined sharply over the three seasons of the show, and it was canceled in 2014.
“America's Got Talent” is still performing well for NBC, however.
For the most part, reality competitions that are still on television are long-running programs with proven pull. Programs like “Survivor” and “The Bachelor” debuted in the early 2000s, and even the hit show “Dancing With the Stars” debuted more than 10 years ago, while “Talent” has been on almost as long. NBC’s “The Voice” and ABC’s “Shark Tank” are some of the few newer shows that have broken through, with “Tank” having come on the air in 2009 and “Voice” having debuted in 2011.
It may be telling, then, that Cowell is coming aboard an existing show as a judge rather than creating another new one of his own.