Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about whether China’s boffo box office can sustain its remarkable growth rates of recent years; a potentially important Sino-British trade accord on film and TV production and what that might mean for U.S. film and TV production; the very warm welcome in South Africa for epic biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom; and whether a U.S. legal settlement for singer Cheryl Cole might pave the way for her return as a judge on the UK version of The X Factor or even on ITV’s newest music competition, Rising Star.
‘X Factor’ Premiere Falls Short
It’s been an exhausting week for Fox’s reality chief Mike Darnell, who hasn’t slept much since the end of last week as he also oversaw the network’s Emmy telecast on Sunday. And he barely got some shut-eye last night, awaiting the ratings for the premiere of Simon Cowell’s The X Factor. They came in below most expectations: a 4.2 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 12.1 million viewers in the fast nationals, falling short of the January season premiere of American Idol (9.7/26, 21.6 million viewers in the fast nationals) as well as the April debut of NBC’s The Voice (5.1/13, 11.8 million) in the demo. (In the finals, X Factor is expected to go up 2 tenths to a 4.4 rating, though the other 2 shows also were adjusted up in the finals). Cowell had been talking about his goals of beating Idol in the ratings and averaging some 20 million viewers for The X Factor. Darnell dismisses that as “Simon’s showmanship, something you’ve got to love him for.” But “we lived with the reality that there is an enormous interest in every show during premiere week, and honestly, we’re just relieved this morning. Other than crazy expectations, this is a very good premiere.”
Darnell points to the fact that fall has been traditionally tough for Fox and that The X Factor delivered Fox’s best premiere Wednesday ratings in 18 years and was the network’s most-watched fall debut in five years. “If it stays close to a 4 (rating in 18-40) for the 40 hours it’s on the air, that would be amazing for us,” he said. He declined to address the higher premiere number for NBC’s upstart The Voice, but I hear Fox’s explanation is that, because of Idol, there is a built-in appetite for singing competitions in midseason that might have helped The Voice.
Cheryl Cole, who became well-known in the U.S. for being hand-picked and then jettisoned as a judge on Simon Cowell’s upcoming Fox …
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
UPDATED: The incomparable Simon Cowell met the TCA press from afar — via satellite from an undisclosed location that looked suspiciously like a luxury yacht at sea — to promote his latest Fox singing competition to hit America, The X Factor, which arrives needing little plugging. Early on, he confirmed that he’s in talks with Mariah Carey for a mentor-type role on the series that will air Tuesday and Wednesday nights each week beginning Sept. 21. “There are certain sections of the show that I’m hoping Mariah will get involved in,” he said. “She’s been enthusiastic (to be a part of the show) from day one. But then she selfishly got pregnant, which is why she didn’t end up as a judge.”
Cowell also was asked early on in the session to address the Cheryl Cole fiasco, wherein the popular judge on the British X Factor was brought to the U.S. version, only to get bounced after a single taping. “A few of us made the decision while we were filming the show that we felt Cheryl was going to be more comfortable doing the UK show than the American show. Unfortunately, when the story went public, negotiations fell apart. But she was offered the chance to come back to America. But for certain reasons, she decided not to. I guess that’s what happens when you make reality TV. Real things happen. It doesn’t always go your way.” Cowell dismissed speculation that any friction between Cole and fellow judge Paula Abdul may have played a role in Cole’s ouster. “If not getting along with Paula was a factor, I wouldn’t be on the show,” he said.
MONDAY: She was sought after for both the U.K. and the U.S. versions of X Factor. Now Cheryl Cole won’t be a part of either of them. After getting axed from the upcoming Fox edition of the singing competition, there was speculation that Cole would return to the British version of the show. But no deal was reached, and the X Factor network ITV announced earlier today that the judges for the upcoming season of the show will be Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland and the only returning member of the panel, Louis Walsh. “These four are totally up for it, each of them bring a different attitude,” X Factor chief Simon Cowell said in a statement. “They have had a ton of hits between them and they are all committed to finding a star.” Cowell, who made an appearance as a judge on his other U.K. talent competition series, Britain’s Got Talent, over the weekend, got ribbed by co-host Dec over Cole’s dismissal. “Can you understand my accent Simon,” asked Dec, who shares the same Geordie roots as Cole.
Deadline’s Nikki Finke revealed last month in its exclusive interview with The X Factor mastermind Simon Cowell that he was adding UK pop singer Cheryl Cole to his judges’ panel on the Fox singing competition which premieres in the fall. The network made it official in an announcement this morning. Cole is a judge on his British version of the show but unknown to American audiences. Cowell recently told Nikki that he wants to team up again with Paula Abdul to round out the 4-member judge’s panel, but her contract isn’t done yet:
British pop superstar Cheryl Cole will join Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Simon Cowell as a judge on THE X FACTOR, the highly anticipated singing competition series debuting this fall on FOX. Cole, who has sat alongside Cowell as a judge on the U.K. version of “The X Factor” for three years, is a multi-platinum selling solo artist and a member of Girls Aloud, one of the U.K.’s most successful female vocal groups of all time. Cole will join Cowell, Reid and an additional judge (to be announced) as they travel to THE X FACTOR audition cities searching for the next global superstar or breakout music group.
“I’m thrilled for Cheryl. She is massively excited about this show, and has been fantastic to work with,” said Cowell. “She is also a complete brat! Most importantly, this girl can spot talent.