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New season: ABC laughs last with fall's final pairing of new sitcoms -- Hank and The Middle

Simon Cowell inks new deal while Fox exec. Peter Rice looks on.

Lots happened during my week-long sojourn in Pasadena covering the semi-annual Television Critics Association "press tour."

My employer for the week was locatetv.com, for which numerous dispatches were filed. Here's a list of highlights, with links to the complete stories.

***Simon Cowell announced that this will be his last season as a judge on American Idol. Beginning in fall 2011, he'll produce and be a judge on Fox's American version of The X Factor, the hit British talent competition that last year launched the career of Susan Boyle.

***NBC exec Jeff Gaspin confirmed that affiliate station pressure led the network to end its prime-time version of The Jay Leno Show. Gaspin also detailed his proposal to give Leno a new half-hour late night show that would precede Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show. But O'Brien pointedly refused to go along, saying a half-hour delay of Tonight would irreparably damage NBC's long-running late night franchise. The two sides are still working out an official exit strategy, with O'Brien likely to be signing off after this week.

***Fox executives indicated their keen interest in O'Brien to host a late night show for their network.

***NBC announced its five 9 p.m. (central) replacement shows after the Winter Olympics end on Feb. 28th. Leno's last prime-time show will be on Feb. 11th, the night before NBC's telecast of the Olympic opening ceremonies from Vancouver, Canada.

***ABC announced second-season renewals for freshman comedies Modern Family, The Middle and Cougar Town. Fox said that Glee likewise will return for a second season and CBS later said in a press release that both NCIS: Los Angeles and The Good Wife will have sophomore seasons.

***And oh yeah, there was a big Lost panel, too, preceding the Feb. 2nd launch of the ABC series' sixth and final season.