Simon Cowell to Quit ‘American Idol’ in 2011?

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Adding more fuel to speculation that Simon Cowell’s gunning for a stateside adaptation of his Brit hit X Factor, the mogul’s brother–some poor radio host by the name of Tony Cowell–recently said that the man responsible for foisting Leona Lewis upon the undeserving world is planning to depart American Idol after its first season with Ellen DeGeneres concludes in 2010.

Will viewers, who have already felt the wind knocked out of them with Paula Abdul’s unceremonious ouster, be able to cope with the Sultan of Snark bowing out, just a year after they’re forced to get used to DeGeneres? And will they take kindly to getting left behind while SiCo tries to domesticate his latest cash cow for American audiences? In addition to currying disfavor among viewers who abhor change, will this career move put Cowell’s colleagues on edge? Surely the argument could be made that while Cowell’s become a mastermind at combining reality television and pop music to yield all kinds of profit, his megalomania makes him something of a liability for producers and execs who don’t want him to be the, well, the x factor in their own projects.

The last time Cowell had such a critical role on TV–as part of the judges’ panel for Pop Idol–he swiftly threw series creator Simon Fuller under a bus. Pop Idol was the basis for our own Idol. There was a nasty legal battle between the Simons. But after an out-of-court settlement, Cowell triumphed over Fuller, with Fuller having to settle for table scraps off the Spice Girls’ reunion tour. But most importantly of all, where does this put SiCo pet project Susan Boyle? As a guest judge on X Factor: America?