'Idol' Judge Cowell To Return

As "American Idol: The Search for a Superstar" wraps up its run tonight (Sept. 4), one of its newly minted stars already has wrangled a big payday -- and he didn't even have to sing.

As "American Idol: The Search for a Superstar" wraps up its run tonight (Sept. 4), one of its newly minted stars already has wrangled a big payday -- and he didn't even have to sing. Simon Cowell, the British music executive who shot to fame as the reality series' brutally frank judge, has signed up for the second season of the show, set for broadcast on Fox early next year.

One insider said Cowell will net at least $1 million for "Idol 2," though network officials would not comment on that figure or whether the deal had officially closed. There is no word yet on Cowell's fellow judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, though they are expected to return.

"Idol" began its current 24-episode run with limited expectations but soon built into a major hit, especially among younger viewers. "Idol 2" will begin its run during the first quarter of 2003, though such details as time slot and number of episodes are still being worked out.

Cowell spent the past decade working as a BMG Records executive. His tart put-downs of aspiring singers made him a national celebrity during the run of "Pop Idol," the British precursor to "American Idol."

As previously reported, the 30 "American Idol" semifinalists are set to reunite in a Sept. 23 two-hour special, which currently carries the working title "American Idol in Las Vegas." The program, featuring performances from the contestants, will be taped before a live studio audience at the city's MGM Grand casino/hotel. Beginning Oct. 8, an unspecified number of the finalists will hit the road for a six-week U.S. arena tour.