American Idol creator sues Fox TV over US X Factor

Simon Fuller claims he is owed executive producer credit and fee from Rupert Murdoch's network for US version of show

Simon Fuller, the man behind American Idol, is suing Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV network over an alleged breach of contract involving the US X Factor.

In a lawsuit filed in in Los Angeles late on Wednesday, Fuller claims he is owed an executive producer credit and a fee for the US version of Simon Cowell's hit talent show, set to launch on Fox in September.

Fuller says he was "contractually promised" the credit and fee in a 2005 agreement between the music mogul, Fox and Fremantle Media North America, the company that co-produces American Idol and The X Factor.

The 2005 contract was made as part of the high-profile settlement when Fuller dropped a £100m copyright suit against Cowell over similarities between the Pop Idol format on which American Idol is based and the The X Factor.

Fuller's spokesman said: "Mr Fuller has prudently attempted to settle this matter privately but the other parties have refused to honour the original contract, leaving him no other choice but to pursue legal action."

However, Fox and Fremantle, a subsidiary of RTL, dispute the claim. They insist Fuller was never hired by the firms and did not perform "any duties" on the US version of The X Factor, which features producer LA Reid and American Idol judge Paula Abdul.

Fremantle and Fox said the lawsuit was "without merit" and accused Fuller of seeking payment "despite his neither having been approved by the required parties, nor hired as such".

The lawsuit adds fresh animosity to the bitter rivalry between TV moguls Cowell and Fuller. Cowell remained as a judge on Fuller's American Idol despite the 2005 legal showdown – though the Syco producer left the show in January last year to bring The X Factor to the US.

The X Factor has proved a huge success in the UK, with last year's final peaking at 18.8 million viewers.

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Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

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