Why Simon Almost Walked Away from 'Idol'
December 7, 2005

He's got a fat new paycheck and a sweet long-term deal with "American Idol." Now, for the first time, Simon Cowell is revealing just how close he came to walking away from TV's top show, telling "Extra" the clock ticked down to the final hour in a last-minute lawsuit filed by "Idol" creators.

In an explosive behind-the-scenes battle, Simon was fighting to keep the right to sign "Idol" winners to his own label. At the same time he was threatening to sell his new UK talent show "X-Factor" to a network other than FOX.

"At one point, everyone was going to end up in court," Cowell revealed. "On the day you're going into court, you have a decision to make. Do you want to carry on working with each other? Or do you want to fall out? And both of us made a decision very, very quickly we wanted to work together."

"There was a bit of posturing, it's part of the negotiation," Simon continued. "But I always knew it was going to get resolved. We're all best of friends now."

Simon wasn't talking, however, about what he got paid for the deal. "It's a private thing," he said. "It was okay."

We can tell you this much: not only did Simon keep the right to sign "Idol" winners, he'll now reportedly receive a whopping 30 to 40 percent of the show's mega-million dollar profits. Plus, he's signed a $40 million contract that will pay him $8 million a year for the next five years.

But on't except Mr. Nasty to go out celebrating. "No, because then you behave like a lottery winner," he insisted. "It's vulgar."

Get ready to celebrate with the next "American Idol" when the fifth season kicks off in January.

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