Negotiations On New American Idol contract Progressing

The first talent auditions for the ninth season of the Fox juggernaut "American Idol" are still two weeks away, but there is already a beauty contest going on behind the scenes.
Negotiations on a new contract for Simon Cowell, the show's linchpin, chief prosecutor and animating force, are progressing quickly and could be concluded as early as this week. Cowell, who currently makes about $36 million annually and still has another year on his pact, is looking at a new multiyear deal that would boost his pay to the $45-million range, people close to the talks said , Los Angeles Times reports.

However, American Idol auditioner Alexis Cohen died at age 25 on July 25 after being struck by a car in Seaside Heights, N.J. Cohen's colorful behavior in early episodes of Idol's seventh and eitght seasons, including repeated rude gestures directed at the judges, made her a memorable presence. Authorities are seeking further information about the fatal collision , Entertainment Weekly reports.

Meanwhile, an arrest has been made in the death of an "American Idol" contestant who was struck and killed by a car over the weekend.

23-year-old Daniel Bark was booked on charges of death by reckless driving as well as leaving the scene of an accident in the death of Alexis Cohen, who appeared on "Idol" in seasons 7 and 8 but failed to win a trip to Hollywood , reports.