“There is a date clash. I don’t know yet,” Simon Cowell said coyly when asked this afternoon if he is going to participate in Thursday’s series finale of American Idol on Fox.

Cue up Loretta Young entrance for Thursday night.

Cowell came to NBCUniversal Summer Press Day today to talk about America’s Got Talent, on which he’s an EP and, this summer for the first time, a judge.

Asked what it’s been like being away from judging an American reality competition series, Cowell deadpanned it was like a “desert. No water. No friends.”

“It was fine,” clarified Cowell, who has been judging Britain’s Got Talent, among other things, during his U.S. on-air hiatus. He admitted that the AGT judges last season were very good, “but I was kind of hoping one of them would hurt themselves. Not badly, but enough I could go, ‘I’m here!'”

Last fall, one month after Howard Stern announced he was ending his four-year run as AGT judge, NBC said Cowell would be returning to U.S. screens as an AGT judge for the upcoming 11th season.

The former American Idol judge created the Got Talent format that launched with AGT in 2006. Today he said he’d like to “improve the level of music acts” on AGT this season.

Cowell addressed members of the press when the panel ended, a surprise to say the least.

“I’d like to say something. I was the new boy in town. These guys, they have been so much fun to work with, and they’re so good at what they do, along with the production team. You guys who write such nice things about us for years, I just want to say thank you,” Cowell said, stunning the reporters.