The latest Will Smith rumor is that the West Philly rapper turned movie star has signed on to be a judge on a talent show in creation by ex-American Idol judge Simon Cowell.

“Simon is desperate to make the U.S. X Factor the biggest show in the world and trounce American Idol,” a source told London’s Daily Mirror.

But until the report’s confirmed, fans can add it to the heap of rumors that have swirled around Smith since he last starred in a film, Seven Pounds, released in December 2008.

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The only definite project: Men in Black III, which won’t blast up 3-D aliens in theaters till next year.

Smith’s name has also popped up with a mysterioso sci-fi project from Matrix originators Larry-turned-Lana and Andy Wachowski. Ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said he was done up with dreadlocks and a third eye in his forehead, as blog mogul Arianna Huffington, done up like Cleopatra, interviewed him next century about the war in Iraq. Some recent reports mention Cobalt Neural 9 as the working title, don’t mention Smith, and cast doubt on the film being seen this year.

It’s possible, then, that three years could pass without Smith atop a marquee – remarkable for a man who racked up an unprecedented string of blockbusters.

From 2002’s Men in Black II to 2008’s Hancock, Smith starred in eight straight films that opened at No. 1 and grossed more than $100 million.

In 2008, he was No. 11 on the Forbes list of the 100 most influential celebrities – higher than Stephen Spielberg. In 2010, Smith didn’t even make the list.

Judge Judy did.

About a year ago, when Hancock 2 rumors surfaced, director Peter Berg said, “Will’s kind of taken time off to be with his kids.”

Indeed he has. Son Jaden starred in Karate Kid, a hit last spring that papa Smith produced. Daughter Willow had a hit with “Whip My Hair,” performed it on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and is expected to tour in Europe with Justin Bieber, who apparently has a deal to star in a Will Smith-produced film.

Word surfaced in October of a new M. Night Shyamalan project, One Thousand A.E., hooking up with Will Smith’s production company, Overbook Entertainment, and some speculated that the Overbrook High grad might star. No, but son Jaden might, later reports suggested.

Maybe Will Smith will star in Bad Boys 3. In May, producer Jerry Bruckheimer said, “It’s a wish and a hope and a dream. We’ve been working on a screenplay, which is excellent. It’s an idea Will gave us, so hopefully, it will come to fruition.” In late November, Variety reported that Peter Craig, who wrote the screenplay for The Town, had been hired by Sony to do the script.

Early last year, Independence Day director Roland Emmerich spoke of making two sequels starring Smith, but no further news has surfaced.

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