The X Factor Season 3: Smaller Prize, Passionate Mentors, No More Judges' Houses or Boot Camp

X-Factor-Season-3-SpoilersThe ever-changing X Factor team — including Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio — took the stage Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills and promised fresh things ahead in the competition series’ third cycle.

“I feel really comfortable with the girls and I think it’s going to be the best show we’ve made so far,” Cowell assured. “It’s got an energy about it this year which has been lacking before. So, I’m confident.”

The mega-producer attributed his surge of confidence in the upcoming run to the latest shuffling of the judges’ table. “It just felt that with all the shows, the judging panels were beginning to look the same,” he explained. “Most importantly, when we sat down and spoke to [Lovato, Rowland and Rubio], it was really, how passionate are you about doing this job properly, working with the artist properly and actually trying to find a star at the end?”

Addressing The Voice coach Adam Levine’s recent comments that the “overall mission statement” of a singing competition series is not necessarily to successfully launch the careers of its contestants, Cowell responded: “No show can survive without that. You’re making a promise to the contestants that you’re going to try to turn them into a real-life artist… It’s not a guarantee, but that’s you’re [goal]… That’s why we make the show.”

Other panel highlights included:

• According to ETOnline, EP Rob Wade said the focus in Season 3 will be contestants’ performances — and not their ability to survive a full-scale assault of backup dancers and props. “We love production and don’t want to lose production on the show, but it’s something you’ll see gradually build up over the weeks,” he said. “This way the contestants’ journey to being — and looking like — a superstar will happen slowly over the weeks now.”

• Judges’ Houses and Boot Camp rounds are kaput for the upcoming installment, executive producers Wade and Andrew Llinares revealed. Instead, a yet-to-be-announced middle round will involve all four mentors whittling down the field until each one has four contestants per category.

• Cowell noted that the previous $5 million prize was “almost too much. ” Moving forward, the winner will receive “$1 million, still get a recording contract with Sony and become a number one priority.”

* The show will return to categories closer to its Season 1 format: Boys, Girls, Groups and Over 25s. (In Season 2, there were Teens, Young Adults, Groups, and Over 25s.)