Simon Cowell Announces He'll Head Up 'America's Got Talent' — Producer's Plans To Bump Howard Stern Detailed In Sony Hack

Simon Cowell Howard Stern Leaked Sony Email
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Oct. 22 2015, Updated 11:46 a.m. ET

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Simon Cowell announced his return to U.S. television as a judge on America's Got Talent Thursday via Twitter, saying, "The good news is America's Got Talent is back next year and the even better news is so am I!"

The landmark announcement marks Cowell's comeback to American television since The X-Factor USA went off the air in 2013.

The move was foreshadowed six months ago when a hacked Sony email between two TV executives — Sony CEO Michael Lynton and NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke — revealed that the American Idol ace had hoped to knock the shock jock out of the show's lead judging chair.

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In the April 17, 2014 email, Lynton encouraged Burke to chat with Cowell, saying that the TV mastermind was "thinking that the right thing to do would be for him to star in the show and not Howard Stern," adding that the U.K.'s version of the show, Britain's Got Talent, "is hugely successful and a better show" than its American counterpart.

Cowell also suggested that production of the show be moved back to Los Angeles, "where it would be cheaper to produce," according to Lynton.

The show was moved to the East Coast in 2012 to accommodate the then-incoming King of All Media, and the cross-country trek was one of Stern's gloating points in his "retirement" video from the show following his exit last month.

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Simon Cowell

"I felt really fortunate that I could be the guy responsible for bringing the show to New York," he said in the clip.

After the email detailing Cowell's plans went public this past spring, Stern didn't pull any punches in voicing his discomfort with Cowell's maneuverings, via his radio show in April.

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The King of All Media said that when Cowell visited past tapings of the show — and saw the standing ovations Stern received — he "felt Cowell's envy on his back."

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Stern added that he's never been one to play politics behind-the-scenes to cost other people work, noting, "I don't want that karma."

Cowell, speaking to USA TODAY following the big reveal, took the high road in addressing the man he replaced, saying that "for the years Stern was on the show, he did a great job.

"I think at the point we really knew Howard wasn't going to come back, we then had serious conversations with NBC. I thought, 'I think this is the right time.' So, I'm excited about it."

Cowell confirmed to the paper — as noted in the leaked emails — that he will move the show back to Los Angeles, adding, "I always thought of this as a Hollywood type of show."

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