Fall TV Preview

Who Will Judge Fox's X Factor: Paula Abdul? Katy Perry? Cheryl Cole? Simon Says....

Simon Cowell says the producers of Fox’s The X Factor, which premieres this fall, have “spoken to lots of people” about serving as judges on the U.S. port of the British hit, and when it comes to Paula Abdul, yes, she has a spot on their increasingly short list.

“We’ve taken it down to a smaller group of people and she’s in that panel,” Cowell told Access Hollywood, saying that he himself has had discussions with his onetime American Idol foil. “But it’s more than me who makes the decision.”

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Cowell says it is “crucial” that the X Factor panel include “a hit-maker who worked in America and has had experience” — especially since, unlike Idol, this singing competition has the judges also serve as mentors.

So in addition to Abdul, Mariah Carey and Pussycat Dolls frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger are also in the running. But California Gurl Katy Perry is not, Cowell confirmed.

And while George Michael has a spot on the short list, another British recording artist — Sir Elton John — doesn’t, contrary to rumors. “He’s so grumpy nowadays,” Cowell notes with apparently no sense of irony. “He’d be moaning the whole time.”

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As for Cheryl Cole, a favorite panelist from the U.K. X Factor (though hardly a household name in these parts, yet neither was Simon pre-2002), Cowell told E! News “she’s definitely in the mix.”

Cowell also hinted that an unexpected name could claim a seat at the dais. “We [just] met somebody who I’ve never met before in my life, who I just loved,” he said, not naming names. “That’s why it’s good to [take your time with] the process.”