Beyond his part in the Susan Boyle juggernaut, Mr. Cowell was also the central attraction on the top-rated television shows on separate continents last week: this season's first new episode of "Britain's Got Talent," seen by more than 50 percent of the television audience in Britain, and the latest edition of "American Idol." Last fall Mr. Cowell was on another top-rated talent show in Britain, "X Factor," which he also owns.
But perhaps the loudest note of all was hit by Mr. Cowell himself, who sent a blast of panic down the halls of the Fox network when he said in an interview with The Daily Mirror of London this month that he was considering leaving his judging job on "Idol" after one more season. And yes, he said, he is serious. "When I signed the latest extension on 'Idol' through next season, it felt like that was going to be the right amount of time," Mr. Cowell said. "It still feels right."