LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British judge Simon Cowell leaves top-rated TV singing contest “American Idol” after its season nine finale next week to work on bringing a U.S. version of his own show (“The X-Factor”) to the Fox network in the fall of 2011.
After starting out as the judge everyone loved to hate, Cowell, 50, has become one of the richest and most talked about personalities on both British and U.S. television.
Following are some memorable “Simon” moments since 2002;
— “Are you taking singing lessons? Who’s your teacher? Do You have a lawyer? Get a lawyer and sue her,” to a first season “Idol” contestant.
— Satirizing his nasty “Idol” persona on a 2004 episode of “The Simpsons”, an animated Cowell judged applicants for an exclusive pre-nursery school and finds himself pummeled by Homer Simpson.
— After two seasons of on-air bickering and ridicule, Cowell and Paula Abdul exchange a sloppy kiss in a romantic dinner skit for the 2003 “Idol” season finale.
— Challenged to a push-up contest in 2003 by Marine Josh Gracin — and losing.
— “You’re dressed as a guitar but you also look like an insect singing country Western music,” to a contestant auditioning for season 9.
— Making a rare apology in 2008; “I went back home to watch it. It wasn’t quite so clear cut as we called it. And in fact, David (Cook), I will take this opportunity to apologize, because I think I was verging on disrespectful with you, and I don’t think you deserved that.”
— The tell-tale wink from a kinder Cowell in 2010 as he told promising contestants they were “going to Hollywood!”.
— getting itchy feet in 2007; “There has to come a point when I will step down from being on camera and remain behind the scenes because you can’t keep doing this forever...I think by (the end of my ‘Idol’ contract) that the public will be sick to death of me anyway and it will be time to go.”
— On Paula’s 2009 departure as a judge; “I adore Paula. Whatever happens, I will be working with her in some capacity because I miss her.”
— To an early “Idol” contestant; “If you had lived 2,000 years ago and sung like that, I think they would have stoned you”
— In his 2003 autobiography “I Don’t Mean To Be Rude, But...”, Cowell wrote that when he was four years old he told his mother, who was wearing a fur hat, “Mum, you look like a poodle.”
— To a 2004 contestant: “If your lifeguard duties were as good as your singing, a lot of people would be drowning.”
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Dean Goodman