19 With A Bullet

Several staff at 19 Entertainment’s London office are facing layoffs amid rumours that parent company CKX is preparing to sell it.

The move follows 19 founder Simon Fuller’s decision to leave the company he created in 1985 to set up a new company called XIX, prompting speculation that 19 Entertainment is for sale and Fuller is among the potential buyers. Another possibility is that 19 Entertainment staff facing redundancy could join Fuller at XIX.

The issue is made more confusing by Fuller retaining a lifelong consultancy with 19, despite selling it to Robert Sillerman’s CKX. Sillerman’s company also has an option to buy one-third of Fuller’s new venture. It expires March 15.

XIX may even be working out of the same south London office that’s home to 19.

Fuller sold 19, which produces “American Idol,” to Sillerman’s company in 2005. Sillerman recently told analysts he was open to offers for “American Idol” or 19, although the $92 million it made last year dwarfed the income from CKX ventures including enterprises related to Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali.

“American Idol” is supposed to be worth $25 billion as a brand on its own, but 19 also looks after the careers of David and Victoria Beckham, tennis star Andy Murray and manages pop acts including Annie Lennox and local crooner Will Young. It also owns Storm model agency.

“If I Can Dream,” Fuller’s latest show for 19, has just gone live. It’s been five years in the making and follows five aspiring stars trying to pursue careers in Hollywood, monitored at all times by closed-circuit cameras. Pepsi, Ford and ad company Clear Channel are also backing the concept.