On Oct. 22, 2013, Fox announced that the network has hired Simon Andreae as executive VP of alternative entertainment. He will oversee Fox's reality shows and other unscripted programs, including "The X Factor," "American Idol" and Gordon Ramsay's programs such as "Hell's Kitchen," "MasterChef," "Kitchen Nightmares" "MasterChef Junior" and "Hotel Hell."
Andreae replaces Mike Darnell, who exited Fox in May 2013 as president of alternative entertainment, after 18 years with Fox. Darnell (who is now Warner Bros. Television's president of unscripted and alternative programming and syndicated fare) left Fox with his legacy in tatters, as ratings for "American Idol" were at an all-time low, and "The X Factor" U.S. failed to meet ratings expectations.
Before joining Fox, Andreae served as West Coast senior VP of development and production at Discovery Channel, where he oversaw the development of ratings hits “Naked and Afraid,” “Fast N’ Loud,” “Curiosity” and “Your Body on Drugs.”
Prior to joining Discovery, Andreae was president of The Incubator, which produced unscripted shows for Spike, USA, VH1, Discovery, History, Channel 4, TLC and Science, including the Emmy-nominated “Through the Wormhole,” hosted by Morgan Freeman.
Andreae is based out of Fox's Los Angeles headquarters. He reports to Fox chairman of entertainment Kevin Reilly.
In the press release, Reilly commented: “This was a highly sought-after role in town, and given Fox’s legacy in groundbreaking unscripted entertainment, we were looking for a particular caliber of executive – and we found the perfect fit in Simon. Not only is Simon known for innovative thinking, he’s a dynamic leader who has been a producer and a network executive on both sides of the pond, and he has the energy and drive to open a new chapter in Fox unscripted.”
Andreae added: “I’m very grateful to Kevin and his team for giving me this opportunity. My intention is to help build on Fox’s rich heritage of risk and innovation and to help support and extend its range of category-defining shows and world-leading talent."
What does this change in Fox's management mean for the U.S. version of "The X Factor"? It means that there will be a new executive who will be part of the team that determines the show's fate. And right now, things aren't looking to good for the show's future.
According to the Nielsen Company, "The X Factor" U.S.'s third season in 2013 is averaging 6.5 million U.S. viewers per episode, which is about a 50 percent decrease from what the show's ratings in its first season in 2011. In 2012, "The X Factor" U.S.'s second season averaged 9 million U.S. viewers per episode.
Although "The X Factor" is still one of the highest-rated shows on Fox, that's not saying much, since Fox has been struggling in the ratings during the 2013-2014 TV season and usually finishes third or fourth each night for total viewers when it's up against shows on CBS, ABC, NBC and the CW. (The CW is almost always in last place.) In addition, "The X Factor" is the most expensive reality show of all time, due to the high salary for "The X Factor" executive producer Simon Cowell, who is the world's highest-paid TV star. According to Forbes magazine and TV Guide, Cowell earned $95 million from his entertainment empire in the past year, and a bulk of that fortune came from "The X Factor."
Cowell is showing signs that he's ready to move on when "The X Factor" U.S. is cancelled. He's selling his mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., for a reported $20 million. His lover Lauren Silverman, who is due to give birth to Cowell's son in February 2014, is based in New York City, where she shares custody of her 7-year-old son, Adam, with her ex-husband, Andrew Silverman. If Cowell is going to be actively involved in raising his son (as opposed to just sending child-support payments), then he will be spending more time in New York.
With no TV show or serious romantic relationship to keep him in the Los Angeles area for long periods of time, Cowell (who has never been married) is apparently preparing to spend more time elsewhere. As I first exclusively reported, Cowell after "The X Factor" U.S. is cancelled, he plans to return to the judging panel of ITV's "The X Factor" U.K., where he was a judge from 2004 to 2010. Cowell is currently a judge on ITV's "Britain's Got Talent."
Cowell is set to replace Gary Barlow, who replaced Cowell in 2011. In October 2013, Barlow confirmed reports that 2013 is his last year with the show since Barlow will be busy with a new Take That album in 2014, followed by a Take That tour. Cowell is not going back to "American Idol" (where he was a judge from 2002 to 2010) because he has no ownership stake in the show and because he's had a long-running feud with "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller.
Fox probably won't make an official announcement about the fate of "The X Factor" U.S. until May 2013. Until then, spokespeople for the show say that no decisions have been made yet.