Simon Cowell: 'The X Factor' judging panel still yet to be determined
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/07/2011
Reports that Fox and Simon Cowell have already decided the judges for The X Factor's American edition are premature, according to Cowell, who created the British singing competition and will serve as the new U.S. version's lead judge when it debuts this fall.
"I'm not going to say today... who we are going to confirm or who we're not going to confirm, because the truth is, we honestly haven't made our mind up yet," Cowell told reporters during a Monday conference call. "We're talking to a number of people and then I'd expect to make an announcement, I would say, within three to four weeks, or it might be a bit longer. I'm not sure as to who the panel are going to be."
However, Cowell did discuss the possibility of reuniting with fellow former American Idol judge Paula Abdul on The X Factor's judging panel.
"I am actually a fan of Paula and it is quite unusual when you work with somebody for as long as I did with Paula, that we were friends on the show I'd say about 80% percent of the time and then interestingly afterwards, we'd been in regular contact. So, I'm a big fan of hers," Cowell said.
Cowell also noted that availability and commitment will be key to determining The X Factor's judges, as unlike American Idol, the new show will require its judges to mentor and work with the contestants on a near-daily basis.
"I think it comes down to who I think is interesting, but the most important criteria I think for this show is the commitment and the expertise each person offers. Because on this show, when you reach the live part of the shows, each judge is going to mentor three finalists each, and that means you got to work with them up to five or six days a week," Cowell told reporters.
"So, I'd need to find somebody who's willing to make that commitment because it is hard work, because you are deciding on all of their material, how they're going to perform on the night, you're going to have a relationship with them, and I also think it's really really important for me that I got people I can trust in terms of their expertise -- their gut feeling -- and that's why it's a difficult decision when you're putting a team around you."
Cowell added that in addition to working work well with the contestants, the judges must also have a strong desire to compete against and challenge each other.
"I also think it's important on a show like this that you got people who are very competitive with each other, because essentially, the judges are taking part in this competition as well as the competitors. You want somebody who is competitive... It also helps if they're cute," Cowell noted.
While The X Factor creator said "it's impossible to predict" how the British format will fare with American viewers, he feels there is a key to making the show successful.
"The most important thing is I know that you got to make a show which is different to what your competitors are doing. It has to be well made, it has to be controversial, interesting, and if the U.S. show has some of the same qualities as what we've done in the UK, then I think it could do really really well," Cowell told reporters.
However, Cowell acknowledged that even producing a great show won't guarantee that it will be a ratings success.
"I've learned never take anything for granted and I kind of feel at the moment like I did when we were launching American Idol. I was excited about the show. I was excited about the prospects, but I hadn't got a clue whether it was going to be a hit or whether we were going to be kicked out of the country after three weeks," Cowell told reporters.
"All you can do, which I'm going to do, is you give it 110% percent effort and I'll do everything I can to make it the best show I possibly can, and then you hope that viewers like it."
In addition, Cowell also clarified that unlike some other reality competitions -- including his own America's Got Talent competition, which offers a million-dollar prize that is paid as an annual annuity over 40 years or a lumpsum payment which is much less -- The X Factor'sjust-announced $5 million prize will be a legitimate $5 million.
"Just to be clear, this is not a dressed-up $5 million, this is a guaranteed $5 million payable to the winner -- the recording costs, the marketing costs, the video costs are completely separate from that. It will be paid over five years, $1 million a year for five years," he told reporters.
"And on top of the Sony label getting behind the artist, we will also be offering support -- financial [advisement] support -- for the winner [because] they now have to invest their money, look after their money, because that's a lot of cash."