Simon Cowell Exits Talent Competition Series

Simon Cowell has pulled out of the upcoming season of X Factor Israel. The British producer and reality TV personality, who currently appears as a judge on NBC's America's Got Talent, was set to appear as a judge on the upcoming season of the competition series. After rumors surfaced last week that Cowell was considering exiting, Reshet, the Israeli company that produces X Factor locally, confirmed Cowell canceled his appearance.

Jewish News, citing an anonymous source, was the first to confirm Cowell's exit. At this time, Cowell has not addressed his departure from the series, though a source told the outlet the veteran presenter "won't be going to Israel after all." In December it was confirmed that Cowell signed a deal to serve as one of the judges on the fourth season of the show, though the source said that "for a number of reasons he just can't be there in Israel to film the show now." Cowell is said to be "bitterly disappointed" over the decision, which was one "he had to take."

Although the source would not say if Cowell's decision to step away from the series was due to the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, a Reshet representative told Variety that members of Cowell's team reached out with "legitimate concerns" over his participation in the show following the recent violence. At the time, however, it was said that Cowell had made no final decision regarding his involvement in the upcoming season of the show. On Sunday, a spokesperson for Reshet said Cowell canceled his participation as a judge "for his own reasons."

Jewish News' source explained that Cowell also had concerns about his health and the "impact of a busy work schedule." In August 2020, Cowell suffered a serious back injury when he was testing a new electric bike at his home in Malibu, California. The incident required Cowell to be hospitalized, and he underwent surgery to correct his injuries in December. It is not certain if his injuries and recovery weighed into his decision to pull out of X Factor Israel.

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Amid his departure as judge, it is unclear if Cowell will still be involved in the show's production. The former American Idol judge created the original version of The X Factor in the U.K. and served as a judge for its first seven seasons. He then launched the U.S. version of the competition. His involvement in the Israeli version of The X Factor was set to mark the first time he judged in a country outside of the U.S. and Great Britain, something that Reshet said was "a huge achievement for Israeli TV" when Cowell first signed on as a judge.