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Simon vs Simon for TV pop

'Idol' judge Cowell setting up prodco

LONDON — Simon Cowell, caustic judge of “Pop Idol,” is biting the hand that feeds him by setting up a TV production company to rival “Idol” producer Simon Fuller’s 19 Group.

Cowell has held talks with Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, chairman of German music major BMG, about capitalizing on the appetite for music TV formats. Cowell’s joint venture label with BMG, S Records, has an exclusive deal to release recordings made by “Idol” finalists, but he earns nothing from sales of the show.

The phenomenal success of the format has made Cowell a household name on both sides of the Atlantic, and he is being paid $2 million to appear in “American Idol 2.” Fuller, who also is behind “S Club 7” and managed the Spice Girls at their peak, eschews the spotlight. Cowell maintains the deal will not hamper his business relationship with Fuller.