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Simon Cowell does Animal Logic deal and fires longtime publicist Max Clifford

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Simon Cowell has made some big changes in his business relationships. On May 9, 2014, Billboard reported that Cowell's Syco Entertainment has inked a partnership deal with Animal Logic Entertainment to produce mostly animated films. Sony Pictures will release the first movie from the Animal Logic/Syco partnership sometime in 2016. Details about the movie have not yet been announced.

Meanwhile, Cowell has reportedly fired Max Clifford, who was Cowell's personal publicist since 2001. According to PR Week, Cowell's axing of Clifford came around the time that a London court found Clifford guilty of eight charges of indecent assault against females on April 28, 2014. Clifford will be sentenced at a later date.

Syco Entertainment is co-owned by Cowell and Sony Music. In Syco's deal with Animal Logic, the two companies will join forces to produce music-based animated films and hybrid animation/live-action movies. Animal Logic, which is based in Australia, has also produced the hit films "The Lego Movie" and "Happy Feet."

Cowell and Syco Entertainment's movie credits include "One Direction: This Is Us" (the highest-grossing documentary film of 2013) and the biopic drama "One Chance," which tells the story of Paul Potts, the first winner of "Britain's Got Talent," one of the TV shows created by Cowell. James Corden plays Potts in "One Chance," which was released in the U.K. in 2013, and is scheduled for release in the U.S. on Aug. 29, 2014.

In an interview with Billboard, Cowell stated: "These musical animations are doing great box office. From a record label standpoint, we're always looking for different ways to sell music and do it in a cool way. This is something we dreamt of doing.

"We will become a magnet for people who have ideas. Films are a great vehicle for breaking records. Using 'Frozen' as an example, the movie pushed the music and the music enhanced the movie. I think that's how we're going to work."

According to Billboard, "conversations between Cowell and Animal Logic CEO Zareh Nalbandian began eight months ago, after Creative Artists Agency's Jon Levin introduced the two."

Nalbandian told Billboard, "Animal Logic is always looking for that challenge that's innovative and fresh, and I feel Simon does the same with music."

As Cowell embarks on a new business partnership, he has ended another. Cowell's firing of Clifford leaves Cowell without a personal publicist for the first time since 2001, when Clifford began working for Cowell shortly after "Pop Idol" launched.

Cowell rose to fame in the U.K. as a judge on "Pop Idol," which was the precursor to "American Idol." Cowell became an international star as an "American Idol" judge after "American Idol" launched in 2002. Cowell created "The X Factor" in the U.K. in 2004, which resulted in "Idol" creator Simon Fuller filing a lawsuit against Cowell. The lawsuit was later settled out of court.

Cowell left "American Idol" in 2010 to launch the U.S. version of "The X Factor," which was on the air from 2011 until 2013. In 2011, Fuller sued Cowell over the American "X Factor." That lawsuit was also settled out of court. In February 2014, Fox officially announced that "The X Factor" U.S. was cancelled. The cancellation had been expected for months due to the show's rapidly declining ratings.

It has not yet been announced who is replacing Clifford as Cowell's publicist. In a PR Week interview that Clifford did shortly before he was convicted of the sex crimes, Clifford said that he expected to lose some clients as a result of the scandal: "At least a couple of clients will no longer be clients because [they are assisted] by me hands-on." Clifford also added that his company Max Clifford & Associates will continue without him if he is imprisoned.

Clifford was arrested in London on Dec. 6, 2012, as part of a sting operation that is investigating one of the U.K.'s biggest sex scandals: the allegations that the late Jimmy Savile (who died in 2011) and other men in the entertainment business illegally had sexual relations with underage teens and children whom the accused predators met through the now-cancelled BBC shows "Top of the Pops" and "Jim'll Fix It." Many of the alleged sex crimes happened primarily in the 1960s and 1970s in the studios and offices of these TV shows.

The investigation, which is called Operation Yewtree, began in October 2012, after a TV documentary alleged that Savile was a predatory pedophile who had about 300 victims.

Although the police did not release the details of Clifford's arrest, he told the media in a press conference shortly after his arrest that he was accused of sex crimes dating back to 1977. Clifford denied the allegations.

According to the 2012 unauthorized biography "Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell," Clifford was a polarizing figure in Cowell's life: "To many, Clifford was an unattractive operator, known for his confessions as a serial adulterer. He was admired, though, for protecting his clients and offering what Cowell would describe as 'realistic advice.'"

Cowell, who is a self-confessed womanizer, is no stranger to adultery and sex scandals, since his lover Lauren Silverman was married when they started their affair and she got pregnant. (She gave birth to Cowell's son Eric in February 2014. Lauren Silverman and ex-husband Andrew Silverman reached a divorce settlement in August 2013.) However, Clifford being convicted of sex crimes appears to be a scandal that Cowell could no longer tolerate.

Cowell, Clifford and Syco have declined to comment about the outcome of Clifford's trial. Cowell did not attend or testify in Clifford's trial.

However, former "X Factor" U.K. judge Sharon Osbourne wasn't shy about expressing her thoughts. She tweeted on April 28, 2014: "Woke up this morning to the great news that Max Clifford was found guilty on 8 counts of indecent assault. Lock him up & throw away the key."

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