COWELL LIKELY TO QUIT IDOL

The likelihood that Simon Cowell is preparing to quit American Idol became more discernible Tuesday as Cowell expressed frustration over the sameness of his weekly job as talent judge. "The idea that for the next five years, I'd be doing exactly what I've been doing for the past five years ... the thought is just too depressing," Cowell said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. "I'd go nuts, bored out of my mind." He also indicated that if the show ever slipped from the top of the ratings list he would leave at once. "Being No. 1 is verging on an obsession with me," he told the trade publication. In a New York Times article about the possibility of Cowell's departure, Horizon Media's Brad Adgate commented, "I think it would be catastrophic for the show, particularly since it is beginning to show signs of viewer fatigue this season." The Times observed that Cowell also owns a hit British TV show called X Factor which his Idol contract blocks him from bringing to the U.S. If he leaves Idol, the newspaper suggested, he'd be free to produce an American version of X-Factor and appear on it. Meanwhile, Paula Abdul said on ABC's Nightline Tuesday night that although her contract to do American Idol ends at the end of this season, she has no plans to leave. "I love the show, I do. I love what I do on the show."

AND THE HITS KEEP STAYING THE SAME

The top ten shows on Nielsen's weekly ratings list appeared little changed this week from last week or the week before that or the week before that. Once again, the American Idol shows trounced everything in site, with both the performance and the results shows producing more than 24 million viewers. ABC's Dancing With the Stars took third place with 19.46 million viewers, followed by CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation with 15.72 million and the Dancing With the Stars results show with 15.24 million.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 14/22; 2. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 13.8/21; 3. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 12.3/19; 4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 9.8/16; 5. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 9.6/15; 6. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 8.8/13; 7. NCIS, CBS, 8.7/14; 8. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 8.6/13; 9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 8.5/14; 9. Without a Trace, CBS, 8.5/14.

THERE ARE MANY ROLAND HEDLEYS, SAYS DOONESBURY'S TRUDEAU

Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau says that he made his air-headed Fox News correspondent Roland Hedley a persistent tweeter to show the absurdity of real journalists using Twitter to promote themselves. In an interview with WebNewser.com, Trudeau said that some network TV reporters (he refused to name them) are "so smitten with the idea of a personal broadcasting system that the absence of meaningful content to broadcast doesn't seem to concern them." The cartoonist said that some TV journalists produce 30-40 tweets a day. "And as someone who follows a lot of these folks, I can assure you that outside of the occasional interesting link, there's not much added news value." It's all about "trying to pump up follower counts," he said. He added that he particularly objects to journalists who ask their followers to suggest questions for interviews. "Please. You're supposed to be professionals. Do pilots and surgeons ask for suggestions? If you can't think of a few good questions, you and your producer are in the wrong business."

LENO REPRESENTS OPPORTUNITY FOR RIVALS, ABC EXEC SAYS

NBC's decision to air a five-night-a-week Jay Leno variety hour at 10:00 p.m. will give rival networks a chance to make important gains in that hour, ABC affiliates board chairman Darrell Brown has predicted in an interview with Broadcast & Cable magazine. "The affiliates expect real opportunity at 10:00 p.m. with Leno," Brown said. "We see real upside in that." Brown said that the affiliates were "very impressed" with the programs that ABC has in the works for the 10:00 p.m. hour next year. "We think ABC will be in good shape."

BLAGO CAN'T GET OUT OF HERE

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will not become a contestant on NBC's I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here next season, after all. U.S. Judge James Zagel ruled Tuesday that Blagojevich cannot travel to Costa Rica to appear on the show, saying, "I do not have confidence that things will not go astray if I modify bond conditions." NBC said that while it was disappointed with the judge's decision, "There are no plans to move the show to a location in the United States.