With few exceptions, the success and failure and memorability of most competition reality shows has nothing to do with the contestants. It’s the judges, stupid. So Deadline is going to judge the judges. Criteria will include 1) Expertise in their field, 2) Confidence in their role, 3) Connecting with their contestants, and finally 4) Their charisma and controversy. We start with American Idol’s Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey:
The gold standard of competition TV judges on American Idol is and will always be Simon Cowell. The acerbic Brit was a nobody in America when Idol debuted. But his long history as an A&R exec gave his criticisms and compliments weight and credibility. Same with Randy Jackson, who was a record producer. But short-lived Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres had no background in the music biz. A judges panel usually consist of the nice one, the tell-it-like-it-is one, and the icon or role model. A judge’s job is to rid the show of wannabes going nowhere and encourage potential stars. American Idol has three new judges on the show this season but let’s be honest: there are really only two Idol judges worth talking about — Nicki and Mariah. A sop to the country music market, freshman Keith Urban is just a pleasant prop in strategically distressed blue jeans. Veteran Jackson is just an ineffectual prop who should have been removed last year. What I don’t get is why executive producer Nigel Lythgoe won’t cut out these middle men and put the supposedly feuding Minaj and Carey right next to each other and let some real ratings sparks fly. Carey and Minaj come from two very different kinds of stardom and are two very different judges – Nicki is extremely lucid and vivid, while Mariah is very tepid even on a good night.
Simon Cowell is adding another stream to his talent scouting business. Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment’s joint venture, Syco, is hooking up with YouTube to launch global online talent contest, The You Generation. The contest opens to the public March 20 and will run for one year in an experiment aimed at discovering new talent. Entries are solicited from people with “unconventional and original talents” including musicians, photographers, makeup artists, magicians and chefs, Syco said. Wannabes will upload their videos to the You Generation YouTube channel in a different category every two weeks. They’ll then be judged by “professionals associated with Syco.” Prizes will be awarded every two weeks – though it’s not clear yet what the prizes will be – and there will be a grand prize at the end. The contest is available in 15 languages and 26 countries. Cowell’s already juggling the X Factor and Got Talent shows in the U.S. and the UK where he’s returning to judge Britain’s Got Talent‘s seventh season that kicks off in the spring. Click over for The You Generation promo in which Cowell freaks the hell out of some early contestants: Read More »
The first season of The Voice UK was the BBC’s most successful new entertainment show in over a decade, but it was also locked in a ratings battle last year with Simon … Read More »
Creating a new pipeline for Simon Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment’s joint venture, Syco, Over the Top Productions will develop “innovative, niche TV productions to bring more new TV shows to market.” Syco global head of television, Nigel … Read More »
UPDATE PM: Sources close to the producers of X Factor confirm that Britney Spears indeed is out as a judge after one season. “The producers and Simon (Cowell) were having discussions over the holiday period about the year ahead. Britney had never been part of their plans for this year but realistically that was never going to come as a surprise to her either,” a source said. I hear Cowell and his team “have a pretty clear idea of the panel they would like for next season and discussions with one possible new judge have been going on for some time now.” The prospective new addition is expected to meet with Fox and the show’s producers in the next couple of weeks.
PREVIOUS AM: Let the annual circus program known as X Factor Judge Shakeup begin! The months of speculation that Britney Spears won’t be back as a judge on The X Factor next season reached fever pitch overnight, following a TMZ report out of Spears’ camp that she is “quitting” the Fox singing competition. The network and X Factor creator/executive producer/star Simon Cowell are not commenting, but it appears that Spears’ team has decided to get ahead of the story and position her exit from the show as “entirely her doing” so she can “focus on her music”. Sound familiar? Nicole Scherzinger, who was sacked as an X Factor judge last January, had her handlers feed E! a story that her firing from X Factor was her decision and her wanting “to focus back on her music career.” Read More »
Recently filed financial documents for Simco, the TV production arm of Simon Cowell and Sony Music’s Syco Entertainment, show pre-tax profits more than doubled to £32.6M ($52.2M) for the year ended March 31 2012. The … Read More »
On The X Factor‘s official U.S. Twitter page today, Simon Cowell bid farewell to fellow judge LA Reid. “On a personal level, I’m going to miss @LA_Reid. On a business level, I’m also … Read More »
ITV has confirmed that Simon Cowell will return to Britain’s Got Talent as a judge for the show’s seventh season. Cowell will reunite with judges Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams after coming back to the show in 2012 to give it a boost as it faced off with BBC1’s The Voice UK. Last May’s BGT season 6 finale was seen by a peak of 14.5M viewers and was the most watched show of the year up to that point. Cowell’s full-time return to BGT in January comes just as the impresario is facing a big ratings slip at his other ITV talent show, The X Factor. On Sunday, that show’s finale fell to its lowest ratings since 2006 igniting calls for Cowell to return to the series he left in 2010 to concentrate on its U.S. version which airs on Fox. Both BGT and The X Factor’s contracts with ITV are up after their upcoming seasons. Read More »
Simon Cowell’s The X Factor closed its 9th season on the UK’s ITV on Sunday night with the lowest audience for a finale since 2005 2006, according to overnight data reported by The Guardian. Declining figures this season have led to suggestions that a revamp is coming for the 10th series, the last the show has contracted with ITV. There are also suggestions that Cowell may need to return to the judging panel to save the show. Cowell made a special appearance on The X Factor UK in September, but while it helped the show win the night, it did not boost overnight ratings from the previous Cowell-less episode. Still, The Times of London writes today, “The X Factor may not be dead but either the end is nigh, or Cowell’s return is.”
This Sunday night’s season finale hit a peak of 12.8M with delayed viewings. Overall, an average 11.1M viewers (with delayed viewings) watched the two-hour show that aired from 7:40pm to 9:40pm for a 39.6% share. That was a 2M down from last year’s finale and more than 6M off the 2010 finale, The Guardian reports. Figures for the semi-final show last weekend were down 40% compared to 2010 when Cowell was still a judge, according to The Independent. (That season launched boy band One Direction.) Advertising revenues are also said to be down. ITV will generate about £85M in advertising coin from this season, according to The Guardian, about £15M down from its peak. Read More »
Fox’s The X Factor plans to acknowledge those hit by Hurricane Sandy, said Simon Cowell today. “I’m certain we’ll have a shout-out to those people on that side of the coast and say, you know, stay safe, be strong and we hope that the storm blows off as quickly as possible,” Cowell said Tuesday, the day before X Factor starts airing the first of two-nights-a-week live shows. But Cowell was dismissive about worries that coming on so soon after the uberstorm that battered the East Coast and knocked out power up and down the seaboard would hurt his show’s ratings. “I couldn’t care less,” he said. The producer/judge also said he hoped Fox could find a way to repeat the show for those on the East Coast without power or cable. Read More »
Who knew that The X Factor judge Simon Cowell had his own SuperPac? He certainly has a lot of political capital with Fox, as this election-season morsel comes only a few days after Cowell took the network to task for botching its airing of X Factor. … Read More »
The X Factor may be down from last year, but it still has been the strongest ratings performer for Fox this fall, so the network is renewing the singing competition for a third season. … Read More »
They meet again! After a scheduling move by NBC pitted the network’s The Voice and Fox’s The X Factor during their premiere week, the two singing competition series will go head-to-head again on Tuesday after Fox rescheduled tonight’s episode because … Read More »
Reality star Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez will host Season 2 of Fox’s singing competition … Read More »
The X-Factor judge and Black Eyed Peas frontman have been talking about putting together a technology-based competition show, Deadline has learned. Will.i.am first brought up the idea of the collaboration with Simon Cowell at the UK’s Royal Television Society’s “When Worlds Collide” conference last week. “We’re working on a project called X-Factor for tech, and it’s going to be out of this world,” the singer said via a live video conference Q&A from LA, according to reports in the British press. Will.i.am told the conference he and Cowell discussed the idea a couple of weeks ago over dinner. Part of the concept to make the as-yet-unnamed project unique from X-Factor or American Idol was economic scale: “Singing and performance create a couple of jobs, but this will create jobs,” Will.i.am said. Read More »
Has Simon Cowell blinked? With BBC One’s The Voice UK steadily gaining on Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent over on ITV, the latter network will step out of the line of fire for upcoming episodes. Beginning April 21, BGT will kick off 30 minutes later than it has for the past several weeks, and 10 minutes after The Voice ends. ITV originally set a challenge to The Voice when it moved BGT ahead several weeks so the two shows would debut on the same night. This had followed an earlier bidding war in which both networks were vying for broadcast rights to The Voice. BGT also brought back Cowell as a judge this year in a widely touted move.
As I reported on Tuesday, although BGT’s ratings were originally ahead of The Voice, the BBC One show beat BGT in the overall ratings for the first time this past Saturday and has been steadily adding viewers over its three frames. Key however is the fact that the shows only overlapped for a 20-minute period with The Voice airing from 7-8:20pm and BGT from 8-9:20pm. It’s that 20-minute space where The Voice has soared past BGT each week, Read More »
I hear that Britney Spears is close to a deal to join Simon Cowell on the judging panel of The X Factor in Season 2. Spears had been in talks for the gig for over … Read More »