Simon Cowell gambling on Internet Vegas talent show

Tue Dec 1, 2009 5:02pm EST

* Cowell partners with retail billionaire Sir Philip Green

* Venture would bring TV talent show to Vegas and online

LOS ANGELES Dec 1 (Reuters) - British TV and record producer Simon Cowell, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in British and U.S. show business, is planning to bring his "The X Factor" talent show to Las Vegas in a global pay-per-view Internet venture.

Cowell, 50, best-known as the acerbic judge on America's top-rated TV singing contest "American Idol", told the British version of GQ magazine he had partnered with British retail billionaire Sir Philip Green on the new "X-Factor".

The pair said they are in negotiations with the chief executive of a major hotel-casino venue in Las Vegas to find a permanent home for a new version of the show.

The British reality TV singing contest created by Cowell in 2004 has produced stars like Leona Lewis and has spin-off versions in 19 nations.

"The plan is to take it to Vegas....We'll have a permanent place. The home of 'The X Factor' -- live from Vegas," the January issue of the magazine quoted Green as saying.

Cowell and Green said the idea was to stage two talent shows a week in Las Vegas and broadcast them over the Internet on a pay-per-view basis.

"It'll all be online. You have 20, 30, 40 million people tuning in twice a week," Green told GQ. "You bring two or three hundred million viewers to a venue. It's turning it up a peg."

The pair would then aim later to stage "X Factor" competitions in countries around the world.

Cowell, whose Syco record label is part of the Sony Music Entertainment (6758.T) empire, also created the TV shows "America's Got Talent" and "Britain's Got Talent".

Forbes.com in November named him the top-earning man on prime-time U.S. television with estimated 2008 pre-tax earnings of $75 million.

Cowell said he got the idea for the new venture after dowdy Scottish singer Susan Boyle became a global YouTube sensation following her appearance on "Britain's Got Talent" in April. Cowell signed Boyle to his Syco label and her debut album is expected to top U.S. charts this week.

Cowell's current contract as a judge on "American Idol" expires at the end of the 2010 season, which starts in January and ends in May. He hinted earlier this year that he was bored with the show broadcast on News Corp's Fox (NWSA.O) network, but he has not made clear whether he will renew his deal and return to the show in 2011.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

((jill.serjeant1@thomsonreuters.com; +1 213 955 6749))

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