Cowell's Fear of "Overexposure" Led to "American Idol" Exit

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Tonight marks the premiere of American Idol's ninth season, and as Rolling Stone reported yesterday, the final one to feature Simon Cowell at the judge's table. The cantankerous Brit, who will be exiting Idol for his new import The X Factor, admitted he's "very sad" to be leaving the show on Idol host Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM morning show.

Get all of Rolling Stone's essential American Idol coverage.

"We had fun, didn't we?" a slightly wistful Cowell said after he and Seacrest joked dismissively about rumors that Seacrest himself might fill pull double duty and judge as well as host. As for the decision to only judge on X Factor — in Britain, Cowell judges on both Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor — Cowell said, "I think you gotta know when it's time to go. I'd always wanted to bring that other show over here, and at one point I was going to do both shows. But, you know about overexposure Ryan, you can't be on TV too much. So that was really the decision. I thought about at staying on and doing both shows, but then I thought people would genuinely get sick and tired of me."

Seacrest asked pointblank about rumors that former Idol judge Paula Abdul will rejoin Cowell on The X Factor, but Cowell was evasive, responding, "You'll have to wait and see," which is as much of a non-denial as possible. As for the potential host, Cowell also replied, "You'll have to wait and see." Announcements about X Factor personnel are expected "sooner rather than later," however.

Tonight, the American Idol crew begin the season by handing out golden tickets to Hollywood in Boston. Rolling Stone will have full coverage with a special live blog where we'll also be counting down our favorite Paula Abdul moments, so be sure to check in tonight at 8 p.m ET.

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