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Fremantle exec’s promotion leaves hole at ‘Idol,’ ‘X Factor’

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The promotion of Cecile Frot-Coutaz from chief executive of FremantleMedia North America to CEO of parent company FremantleMedia leaves a big hole to fill at the production company behind musical talent shows ‘American Idol,’ ‘The X Factor’ and ‘America’s Talent.’

Frot-Coutaz, who will relocate to Fremantle’s London headquarters to succeed Tony Cohen, plays a large behind-the-scenes role in the creative and business operations of Fox’s ‘American Idol’ and ‘The X Factor’ and NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent.’ Fremantle parent company RTL Group said Cohen is leaving to ‘focus on his non-executive work.’

No replacement for Frot-Coutaz in the United States has been named. Donna Redier Linsk is Fremantle North America’s chief operating officer and the No. 2 executive there. She joined in 2009 from Fox Broadcasting, where she was a senior vice president of business affairs and alternative production.

Known for being direct, Frot-Coutaz has been instrumental in making Fremantle a force in the United States. She also isn’t shy about speaking her mind in public on occasion. This year at a television programming convention, she poked at Simon Cowell’s prediction that ‘The X Factor’ would be bigger than ‘American Idol.’

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‘Simon lives on a Simon planet, and that planet is a very ambitious one,’ she said. ‘Anyone who achieves that level of success walks a fine line between genius and a little bit of craziness.’

One of Frot-Coutaz’s priorities over the last few months has been lining up new judges to join Cowell on ‘The X Factor.’ Of the other judges from Season 1, only L.A. Reid remains: Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger were both released. Pop sensation Britney Spears is on Fremantle’s wish list to join the program.

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American Idol plans Dick Clark Tribute

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-- Joe Flint


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