LONDON (Reuters) - Music mogul Simon Cowell has formed a long-term venture with Sony Corp’s Sony Music Entertainment to produce music, television and film, beginning with the U.S. version of hit British show “The X Factor”.
The new venture, called Syco after Cowell’s record label, will own the existing Syco television and music assets including global TV franchises “The X Factor” and “Got Talent” and star singers like Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle.
According to the Financial Times, which first reported the deal, Sony Music will exchange its 100 percent ownership of Cowell’s record label for a 50 percent share of a broader venture.
The announcement follows shortly after Cowell, one of the most powerful figures in television and pop music, said he was quitting the top-rated U.S. Fox TV show “American Idol” to launch “The X Factor” in the United States.
Cowell, 50, whose sardonic comments and exaggerated scowl as a judge on the shows have made him one of the biggest stars on British and U.S. television, has said he would be both a judge and the executive producer of “The X Factor”.
“I have had a fantastic relationship with Sony for many years and I’m delighted we are launching this venture together,” Cowell said in a statement.
Ged Doherty, chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment UK, added: “With the launch of The X Factor in the U.S., we look forward to replicating the unprecedented success the show has had in the UK globally.”
The X Factor launches in the United States in autumn 2011.
American Idol creator Simon Fuller, meanwhile, recently announced plans for a new entertainment company after he left CKX, the group which owns the American Idol format.
According to reports, he will continue to receive 10 percent of profits earned by the show.
British media have portrayed the moves by the two Britons as an escalation in their professional rivalry as The X Factor prepares to go head-to-head with American Idol in the key U.S. market.
Fuller launched legal action against Cowell in 2004, claiming his X Factor show copied the Pop Idol format, but the case was eventually settled out of court, and the two have collaborated since on several shows.
In an interview with the Times published on Saturday, Fuller played down talk of a rivalry between him and Cowell.
Yet he compared The X Factor as the television equivalent of wrestling versus the “boxing”-style purity of his show, and added: “I want Idol to be purely about talent. We’re not going to be led into the mud, we’re going to stay on our hill.”
Additional reporting by Tim Castle, editing by Paul Casciato