Simon Cowell: A. Rapoport/FOX
Gary Susman
May 23, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Is it possible to make a new season of ”American Idol” without a certain British judge? Hours after Ruben Studdard’s victory Wednesday night, Simon Cowell said he’s not coming back for the show’s third edition next January.

”I’d love to be able to say yes [to season 3]…but I can’t,” he said on the Los Angeles morning show ”Good Day Live.” ”Why can’t I say yes? I’ll tell you what…because I can’t. And, you know, it’s not about the money anymore.”

Just after Wednesday’s season finale, Cowell told reporters that he has plenty of other things to do; besides the Cowell-produced reality-dating show ”Cupid,” which launches this summer, he said he’s fielding three U.S. talk show offers. But what he really wants to do, he said, is return to England and resume his record-producing career.

Randy Jackson told reporters he believed all three judges, including himself, Cowell, and Paula Abdul, would return. ”Idol” host Ryan Seacrest dismissed Cowell’s talk as ”posturing,” suggesting that the judge was holding out for a raise. ”Posturing?” Cowell said of Seacrest’s comment. ”Well, he needs to posture. I don’t. His whole act is a posture.”

Cowell got in another dig at Seacrest, saying he inadvertently let runner-up Clay Aiken know he’d lost a few minutes before making the announcement. ”Guess what? Clay saw the card before the result was announced,” Cowell told ”Good Day Live.” ”Apparently, Clay saw the names about five minutes before he was due to go out [on stage]. Ryan Seacrest is so thick — there’s two names to remember, he has to have them written down!” But Aiken, talking to TV’s ”Extra,” insisted he’d been ”completely in the dark. They keep things so under wraps backstage, there is no way” he saw the results.

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