LOS ANGELES, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Fans of Fox TV's "American Idol" may see a radically different show next season -- starting with the possible absence of judge Simon Cowell.
Contract talks with Cowell -- already one of the highest paid celebs on U.S. TV -- are going down to the wire, The New York Times reported Monday.
Furthermore, Cowell could be tied up in a high-profile court case in London, where "Idol" creator Simon Fuller has charged him with stealing his format for "The X-Factor," a massively popular reality/talent contest on British TV.
The Times said Cowell's involvement is crucial to the future of "American Idol."
For the first time this season, which starts in January, the winner will not be required to sign a deal with Cowell's record label, the Times said. Cowell is reportedly "not interested in making a star for another label," an associate told the Times, opening the possibility he could bow out of "Idol" and choose instead to market "The X-Factor" to a competing U.S. TV network.