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Simon Cowell's winning streak: 'America's Got Talent' renewed, World Cup bet, fatherhood

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Life is good these days for Simon Cowell.

"America's Got Talent," which he created and produces, reigns as summer's top-rated program and was renewed Sunday for a 10th season by NBC. It's part of a "Got Talent" franchise seen in 62 countries which, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, makes it the most successful reality show yet.

Three weeks ago, he placed a good-sized bet on Germany to win the World Cup. And, to top it all off, he's reveling in first-time fatherhood with his infant son with his girlfriend, socialite Lauren Silverman.

"He's amazing. We're in the Hamptons (in New York) at the moment, taking a break. He's 5 months old, learning to swim," Cowell said.

Family life hasn't derailed attending to business for the British TV host and producer who's also the music executive behind such hit acts as One Direction.

He's pleased, if unsurprised, that NBC renewed "America's Got Talent," which features Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel as judges and Nick Cannon as host. The series, a big-tent talent show for every sort of performer, has thrived while singing shows like "American Idol" and "The Voice" have suffered ratings erosion.

"There's so many music shows on at the moment, there was always going to be this problem of dilution. The whole reason we devised 'Talent' is it was supposed to be different," Cowell said.

He attributes its success worldwide in large part to careful handling by FremantleMedia, its co-owner and producer with Cowell's Syco Entertainment. The program airs just once a year in each market to avoid wearing out the format's welcome.

In contrast, he considers his U.S. version of "The X Factor" singing contest a victim of overcrowding, cancelled by Fox after three seasons. Cowell said if he had it to do over again he would have insisted Fox choose between it or network sibling "American Idol."

"Having two shows and 'The Voice' (on NBC) running at the same time was way too much," he said. "If they had kept with 'X Factor' and had more confidence in it, the show would have done what it is in the U.K.," where it's a hit.

That easy confidence, a Cowell trademark, may explain why he's planning on returning to the arena with another singing contest. It's been in development for about eight months and will have a new twist — he's keeping that secret — to distinguish itself from the competition, he said.

He'll present the idea to U.S. networks when he thinks it's ready, he said, along with another talent show that he's working on that, like "AGT," isn't solely just music-related.

Might he consider another project altogether, marriage to Silverman?

"We'll wait and see," Cowell replied, politely.

___

Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at Twitter@lynnelber.

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