Grammy-winning record executive/songwriter L.A. Reid admits to being a little out of his comfort zone when it comes to television.
“This is, for me, sort of my first at-bat — my first barbecue,” says Reid of his experience as a judge alongside high-profile TV personalities like Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul on TV’s The X Factor.
“I’m here to learn and watch and see exactly what Simon does.”
But it’s not like Reid has been content to sit quietly in the critical shadows as the music competition has narrowed its competitive field to a final 17.
Reid says that while he respects show creator Cowell, he doesn’t always agree with his talent assessments.
“I have very different taste than Simon. So I may have made very made different choices. But no names,” he laughs.
Reid — a founder of LaFace Records who has worked with the likes of Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Usher and Kanye West — says he isn’t even aware of the show’s always-present cameras during taping.
“I don’t see a camera. I don’t think about a camera. As far as I’m concerned, I’m sitting in my office admiring talent.”
Reid feels that televised music competitions like X-Factor and American Idol have had a positive impact on the music industry.
Much like YouTube, it’s given record labels new avenues for discovering and developing talent beyond the traditional sources.
“It’s an enhancement. And as a record executive, what we are always looking for are more opportunities for discovering talent.”
Among The X Factor’s final 17, a lot of attention has been focused on Chris Rene, a singer who admitted to a recent drug addiction.
Reid, who personally chose Rene for the final 17, sees a lot of potential in the troubled contestant.
“Chris is going to emerge as an amazing star,” he says. “Chris gave us his word that he will stay straight. I’m going to take him at his word. I have faith in Chris.”
The X Factor returns Tuesday with a special two-and-a-half hour live show at 8 p.m. on CTV.