Defining an ‘X Factor’

From left: L.A. Reid, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell are judge-mentors on “The X Factor.”

Simon Cowell is calling it now: Fox’s “The X Factor” is going to be a huge hit. “You don’t enter something for the silver medal. You do it because you want to be No. 1,” the ever-confident reality TV producer/judge says of his expectations to not only meet the success of “American Idol” with his new venture, but surpass it. “We’re going to try and make it the best show on TV.”

There’s a lot on the line for the new talent competition, another singing contest Cowell has imported from Britain. The winner is guaranteed $5 million in cash in addition to a recording contract and a Pepsi-sponsored commercial to run during the Super Bowl. “If I didn’t think that the talent was worth $5 million in America, I wouldn’t have made the show in America,” the infamously direct Brit says. 

Despite its pedigree, Cowell insists that this is not an “Idol” clone. “The X Factor” is open to both solo artists and groups, ages 12 and up. Contestants will be broken up into four categories: girls ages 12 through 30, boys ages 12 through 30, individuals over 30, and groups. Also, the judging panel — including Cowell, “Idol” mate Paula Abdul, former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and record producer L.A. Reid — will serve as mentors.

“We see this as a game-changer,” Cowell says. “We’re going to try and find a completely different kind of contestant. Our job as judges is to find people who’ve got star quality [and] turn them into stars. And I’ve got a panel who can do that.”

L.A. Reid on the sheer number of wannabe stars:

“We’re seeing more talent in a day than I could see perhaps in a year in my job as a record executive. We are auditioning sometimes 50, 60 contestants a day. I may see 50, 60 in a two-year period. The numbers certainly increases the opportunities for us to discover the next generation of stars — and we are finding them, too. We are finding artists, contestants that we really believe to be true stars of tomorrow.”

Paula Abdul on the caliber of singers auditioning:

“[The contestants] understand the savvy business of the record business, of having to have your own definitive, unique something special that is not copycat to other artists. And they come in, and it’s that feeling that I’ve wanted to feel as a judge even through all of the years of ‘American Idol,’ that I’m discovering something I have never seen before. And it’s not just about having that brilliant voice. It’s about all of the other parts that fill the gap — that special, unique, bold and daring style.”


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