The second season of a Simon Cowell-free “American Idol” started this week. Cowell ditched the popular talent show last year to launch a U.S. version of his British music competition “The X Factor,” which he vowed would attract 20 million viewers. It fell short, topping out at 12 million. Now there’s word that the new “American Idol” judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, had been joking backstage that they would be “devastated” if they didn’t get 20 million viewers. (They did for the season premiere, but just barely.)
Lopez may be winning the ratings war, but Cowell is winning the war of the wages. The music executive earned $90 million last year thanks to “The X Factor,” which he owns a share of, and his record label, Syco. Lopez earned $25 million. Most of that came from “Idol” but she also has several movies coming out and a new clothing line.