UPDATED: Simon Cowell is a step closer to returning to Fox. A year after Fox cancelled his X Factor, Cowell is deep in conversations with Fox on a production pact. “What we are exploring is an overall deal where he would become an internal production pod on the reality side,” Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden said.

Fox TV Group chairman Gary Newman offered some specifics about the potential projects under the deal, saying that the network is in talks with the music and reality TV mogul about “a performance oriented show“ among other series concepts. I hear the idea, a new take on the performance competition reality genre, is still in nascent stages. Walden and Newman met with Cowell during their trip to London in late fall.

After the demise of the latest entry in the arena, ABC’s Rising Star, the broadcast networks have been apprehensive about tipping their toes back in the genre. Cowell raised speculation about an X Factor return at Mipcom last fall when he said during a Q&A that Fox “gave up too early,” that “X Factor is the best music format in the world” and that “I haven’t given up on X Factor America yet.” That is not something that Fox is pursuing.

On stage at TCA, Newman and Walden spoke highly of Cowell. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for him, being able to find stars, being a tremendous talent magnet,” Newman said. Added Walden, “He is a person that epitomizes showmanship. He has a spectacular eye for talent unlike anyone else; he is a star-maker.”