Simon Cowell Sounds Off on X Factor's Cheryl Cole Snafu, Voice Mimicry, and Hidden Cameras

Reality TV king Simon Cowell held court, via satellite, at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Friday, fielding questions about Fox’s fall premiere of The X Factor, the surprising switcheroo in judges, how The Voice did and didn’t steal its ideas, and how this singing competition will deliver moments unlike anything you’ve seen before.

The Cole Hard Truth (?) | Asked to clarify the circumstances that led X Factor to replace Cheryl Cole, a vet of the UK edition, with Nicole Scherzinger (who had originally been set to cohost), Cowell stuck to his original spiel. After Cole attended two cities’ worth of audition sessions, “We felt that she was going to be more comfortable doing the UK show than the American one [and] I thought it would be been good for the show over there,” he said. When Cole’s return to the original X Factor didn’t pan out, “She was offered a chance to come back to America, but for certain reasons decided not to. I guess that’s what happens when you make reality TV –- real things happen.” As for talk that Cole clashed with fellow judge Paula Abdul, Cowell deferred: “If it was q question of not getting along with Paula, I wouldn’t be on the show!”

Carey On | Without revealing specifics, Cowell confirmed that there’s a section of the X Factor season that he hopes Mariah Carey will get involved with –- short of filling an even larger role with the series. “She selfishly got pregnant,” he joked, “which is why she didn’t end up as a judge.”

Versus The Voice | Cowell argued that while the NBC competition’s judges-as-mentors element may seem similar to one of X Factor‘s hooks, “When you watch the show and see how we work with the contestants, it is very different from The Voice.”

Sing TV Firsts | Among the U.S. X Factor‘s calling cards will be a “supersized, 2-1/2 hour live show, which we have never done before,” Cowell said, plus hidden cameras that will capture behind-the-scenes action with the contestants. Plus, Simon repeatedly stressed that because of “the way the judges are going to work with these contestants, you are going to see and hear performances unlike you’ve ever seen on TV.”

Key dates for Fox’s The X Factor, which will mostly follow a Wednesday-Thursday schedule, are as follows:

Wednesday, Sept. 21 (from 8 to 10 pm): Season Premiere
Wednesday, Oct. 5 (8-9:30 pm): Contestant Boot Camp Begins
Tuesday, Oct. 25 (8-10:30 pm): Finalists Revealed
Wednesday, Nov. 2 (8-10 pm): First Live Performance Show
Wednesday, Dec. 21 (8-9:30 pm) Live Season Finale, Part 1
Thursday, Dec. 22 (8-10 pm) Live Season Finale, Part 2

In Season 1, Cowell will be joined at the judges’ table by Abdul, recording industry vet L.A. Reid, and former Pussycat Doll Scherzinger as they travel the country for live auditions and hunt for solo artists and vocal groups age 12 and over to win a $5 million record deal with Syco/Sony Music. Contestants will advance to a “Boot Camp” round, then be split into one of four groups — young guys, young girls, older singers, and groups — and each of the four groups will be paired with a judge/mentor as they navigate the live performance shows and survive eliminations determined by viewer votes and the judges.

Additionally, Fox announced that The X Factor champ will be featured in a Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi, one of the show’s key sponsors.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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15 Comments
  1. blingedup.susan says:

    Yipee!!! Can’t wait!!

  2. Amy says:

    If it wasn’t originally a British show I would say they made a mash-up of the American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent. Also, I am okay with all of this as it brings Simon (and Paula I guess) back to my TV screen. After the abismal judging on American Idol this year I need Simon back in my life.

    • Amber says:

      There is some truth to this, though, as Simon has said that the British version of the X-Factor evolved from Pop Idol, which was the British precursor to American Idol. Since America’s Got Talent and The Voice are basically tweaked versions of American Idol, they are basically all a mash-up. It’s just left to decide which judges and format one prefers.

    • djm says:

      I’ve been offered tickets three times now for X Factors tapings here in LA and have turned them all down. Sorry, but I was THRILLED when Paula left Idol and I have desire-none to have her back in my life in any way, shape or form.

  3. DryedMangoez says:

    “…you are going to see and hear performances generally like you’ve never seen on TV.”

    Unless you’ve seen any of The X Factor UK. Or any other X Factor in the world.

    • “…you are going to see and hear performances generally like you’ve never seen on TV.”

      Does that mean they’ll actually be good and not ear damaging bad like most performances on reality singing shows?

  4. Elizabeth says:

    2.5 hours? And how much of that will be filler and nonsense?

    Come on Simon… I expect more of you.

  5. Sam says:

    I haven’t seen any of the X-Factors (other than clips), but I have two queries:
    1. Is this a show like Project Runway or SYTYCD where they usually only use the contestants first name? Because that drives me nuts.
    2. How often does Simon win in comparison to the other judges on X-Factor UK?

  6. xav says:

    Simon’s line about Cheryl sounds totally untrue.

    • Sarah says:

      because it’s not true, Cheryl Cole was fired because the UK show was falling apart and they needed her there, problem is they didn’t ask her if she wanted to save the UK show

  7. kelly says:

    So disappointed to see no Cheryl Cole on the panel. She was excellent on the uk version and would have been a fantastic choice.

  8. Jack S says:

    Cheryl is no loss really. Nicole was a lot better when she filled in for Cheryl a bit last year, on the UK version.

    And if Mariah was ever going to be a judge, THANK GOD she got pregnant. Do not like the woman. If I tune in, it’ll be for Nicole.

    • Jem says:

      Disagree. Nicole came across as very wooden and emotionless, unlike Cheryl. Interesting to see this reflected in many reviews from this wks press launch (eg see Wall St Journals review “x factor cast give teary tense rollout in Beverley Hills”) Hilarious and worth a look.

      • Thomas says:

        Nicole didn’t come across as emotionless or wooden at all. I’m not even a fan of her’s and I can admit that. But if Nicole came across that way to you then Cheryl shouldn’t be that much better, since she really isn’t.

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