Fox cancelled The X Factor in the U.S. back in February, the same day that ITV said creator Simon Cowell would rejoin the UK version. The following month, Cowell confirmed that former X Factor UK judge Cheryl Cole would return for the 11th season of the show after having left to join the U.S. version in a famously short-lived stint. Today, Cowell’s company Syco announced by tweet that Mel B is to be the fourth UK judge. The panel is now complete with Cowell, Cole, Mel B and the returning Louis Walsh. Last year’s group consisted of Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzing. The former Scary Spice, Mel B (aka Melanie Brown) was a guest judge on The X Factor UK in 2012 who lived up to her nickname with her straight talking approach. Today, she said, “I’ve always thought honesty is the best policy when being a judge and that’s what I’m going to bring more of this year — whether it’s spotting an incredible singer, giving someone a reality check or debating with Simon over who’s got it wrong! Now I can’t wait to get started and find some amazing talent.” Cowell added, “I thought she was fantastic as a guest judge a couple of years ago. She is feisty, opinionated and, I believe, will be a great mentor.” Mel B is also …
A little over a year ago, erstwhile X Factor judge Cheryl Cole sued producers Blue Orbit Productions for more than $2.3M. The case has now been settled out of court, with producers paying an undisclosed sum to the pop star, the BBC reported today. A spokesperson for Cole tells Deadline, “Cheryl’s dispute with Blue Orbit has been resolved amicably.” Cole was a three-time judge on The X Factor UK before being imported by Simon Cowell to serve as judge for the debut season of the American version in 2011. Amid much drama that summer, however, she was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger before the show went to air. In her suit, Cole claimed she was owed money under a pay or play contract. Cole had been paid $1.8M for Season 1 of the U.S. X Factor, but was seeking money for Season Two. Cole’s teams twice won the X Factor UK and Cowell told Britain’s Metro newspaper last week that the two had “patched up our differences a long time ago… I think both of us would like the idea of working together again.” He also praised her judging ability, “She was a great judge… and she knows what she’s talking about.” The X Factor UK was recently renewed for three years on ITV while the U.S. …
ITV is extending its relationship with Simon Cowell for another three years. The British network has pacted with Cowell and Sony’s Syco Entertainment and FremantleMedia UK to keep reality competition series The X Factor UK and Britain’s Got Talent on the air through the end of 2016. Britain’s Got Talent will return to ITV next spring for an eighth series. The 11th series of The X Factor will air in the fall. The renewals had been expected, although there has been some question as to Cowell’s involvement with The X Factor going forward. The 10th series of the show is currently airing with judges Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger, Louis Walsh and Gary Barlow and a consolidated average of about 10M viewers. It was earlier suggested that ITV was urging Cowell to return to X Factor to help goose ratings after last December’s finale hit a six-year low. While he is expected to make special appearances during the series’ runs, a full-time return is still a question mark. He left the show in 2010 to concentrate on the Fox version in the U.S. The two air at essentially the same time of year, meaning doing both would be a stretch. But with the U.S. version faring poorly this season and facing the danger of cancellation, Cowell could potentially become …
Simon Cowell made a surprise appearance at a screening of the first two episodes of The X Factor UK today in London. Of a possible return to the show he departed in 2010, he told the BBC, “I wouldn’t rule it out.” Cowell has been expected to make special appearances on the upcoming season, but up until now word has been that he wouldn’t make a full-time return. Today’s BBC report suggests he didn’t jettison the idea entirely, but he also didn’t elaborate whether his input will be more than occasional guest spots, or potential sit-ins when other judges might sit out. It’s more likely he was speaking about the future, given that the show already has four judges locked for the season that kicks off on August 31: Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne, who is coming back to the show after leaving in 2007. If he were to come back in a ramped-up capacity this year, he’d be shuttling back-and-forth between the British version and Fox’s X Factor in the U.S. The American shows air during the week and the UK episodes are at the weekend meaning he’d be logging quite a bit of fast-turnaround air travel.
Season 10 of Simon Cowell‘s The X Factor UK kicks off in a few weeks on ITV. Sharon Osbourne is returning after a five-year absence, and Cowell will make special appearances, but won’t be back full-time. Could Season 11 be a different story? Three-year contracts for both X Factor and Cowell’s other ITV mainstay, Britain’s Got Talent, expire at the end of this year and The Guardian reports that ITV is urging Cowell to return to X Factor as part of the parties’ new contract negotiations. Thinking is that a Cowell return could help goose ratings after last December’s finale hit a six-year low. Still, the show is key to ITV and while the network is staying mum, I’m assured by a source that X Factor UK and BGT “are going to be around for some time to come.” ITV has “an excellent and long-standing relationship with (producers) Syco and Talkback.” Cowell left X Factor UK in 2010 to concentrate on the Fox version in the U.S. Now going into its 3rd season, that show has had some growing pains – Cowell recently likened S2 to a bad dinner party. But the two X Factors air at essentially the same time of year, meaning doing both would be a stretch. If talks do not guarantee Cowell’s return to the UK …
ITV has unveiled the judges for Season 10 of The X Factor UK with Sharon Osbourne returning to the show. She’ll join Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh. Osbourne was last on the Simon Cowell series in 2007. Last year’s season nine finale hit a low in December and it’s been expected that a revamp was afoot. There will be new double auditions, one set in front of the judges “in an intimate audition room” and the second again with the judges, but in an arena. The auditions kick off on June 4.
Questions about Simon Cowell‘s participation in the UK version of The X Factor have been mounting since the Season 9 finale hit a six-year low in December. At the time, there were suggestions that the impresario would ride to the rescue of the ITV show he left in 2010, reclaiming his seat on the judging panel. While he will ramp up his involvement this year, I’ve confirmed that he will not be making a full-time return to the program.
Cowell told Hello magazine over the weekend that he is “definitely getting more involved and will have a role in the next series” of The X Factor UK. The show habitually airs in the fall; basically the same time as Fox’s U.S. version, on which he is a judge. There’s been speculation he could somehow do both, but I’m told instead that he’s likely to make timely special appearances.
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.
British media are reporting that Nicole Scherzinger, who earlier this year was booted from the U.S. version of Simon Cowell’s X Factor along with Paula Abdul and Steve Jones, has joined the UK incarnation of the competition series as a judge replacing former Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland. A report surfaced in the Daily Mail and other outlets quickly followed. Scherzinger was replaced by Britney Spears on the U.S. X Factor. Scherzinger initially was offered £500K ($777K) to join the show, the Mirror reported, but negotiated a higher fee and will receive £750K ($1.17M). She is expected to join fellow judges Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and Tulisa Contostavlos for Monday’s auditions in Newcastle, the Sun reported. An announcement is expected shortly.
While he continues to do his tedious fan dance as to who will judge the U.S. X Factor, Simon Cowell has reportedly told Brit broadcaster ITV that he will not be judging this year’s home-grown version. According to the Daily Mail, Cowell has dropped out because of health fears. Coping with running two X Factors on either side of the Atlantic, as well as producing both versions of Got Talent and ITV’s new game show Red Or Black, is too much –- even for the famously workaholic Cowell apparently. ITV mainstay presenters Ant ‘n’ Dec will host Cowell’s new game show, which begins filming in June for a September premiere. Even Cowell’s mother Julie has told him to slow down in case the 51-year-old has a heart attack. Syco tells me that “everything is still being discussed.” Reps for co-producer Talkback Thames and ITV declined to comment on the Mail story, describing it as “speculation.” But one insider tells me that you just have to look at how much overlap there will be between the runs of the Fox and ITV versions to see that it is just not humanly possible, even if Cowell only does the live shows in the U.K. and gets a private plane from ITV to shuttle him between Los Angeles and London every week. The U.S. and UK versions of X Factor both start airing in August and reach their finales at Christmas. …
Fox brass are getting more and more nervous about the way Simon Cowell is conducting this controversial but lucrative 7th series of The X Factor in the UK before the show comes to the U.S. in Fall 2011. Viewers are ringing up ITV and TV regulator Ofcom complaining that Sunday’s vote show was rigged. They’re mad because Treyc Cohen, 28, was booted off The X Factor after a sing-off with tabloid favourite Katie Waissel, whose panic attacks and other escapades make for better ratings than Cohen’s serviceable voice but dull presence. One judge abstained after two other judges, including Simon Cowell, voted to send Cohen home, and a fourth judge voted for her to stay. Had that judge not abstained, creating deadlock, then the public vote would have decided the winner, which would have been Cohen
Q&A With Simon Cowell About U.S. Version Of ‘The X Factor’ For Fall 2011: “Zero Rules. Anybody Can Enter, Anybody Can Compete”
EXCLUSIVE: Simon Cowell tells me that Fox has promised it will spend the same amount on the U.S. version of his The X Factor talent contest that the UK programme costs to produce – $2.4 million. Next year, Fox will broadcast it and American Idol in 2011 with Idol running from January to May, and The X Factor airing from September to December. Idol has been the biggest programme on American TV for the past 8 years, and is understood to contribute $200M-$300M to Fox network profits every year. So Cowell, 51, is feeling the pressure of matching that success. Meanwhile, the 7th UK cycle of his X Factor is costing ITV £50 million to make — but earns £72 million in revenue through a mixture of advertising (£50 million), sponsorship (£10 million), phone-line revenue (£5 million), the live tour (£5 million) and merchandise (£2 million). It is estimated that Simon Cowell’s production company Syco, co-producer Talkback Thames, and broadcaster ITV split the £22 million profits between them.
With a personal fortune estimated at £165 million, Cowell just signed his next £100 million 3-year deal to keep Got Talent and X Factor on UK TV. And I’ve learned that Cowell’s Syco also is developing a game show with links to the UK national lottery; the idea is to produce scratch cards that will let viewers join in at home for big cash prizes. Right now, it’s difficult to overemphasise how important The X Factor has become in the UK national consciousness because of he incessant chatter on radio, TV, and Fleet Street. I caught up with Cowell while he was preparing for Saturday night’s 2 1/2-hour show which peaked at 13.2 million viewers with a 51% audience share:
Deadline London: What changes are you going to make to the U.S. X Factor so that it’s different to the show we see over here?
Cowell: I said to everybody the other day, with the American show, just think blank sheet of paper. Don’t make any promises, don’t make any predictions. Go in with a blank sheet of paper right now. I can feel a change in the air. While everybody’s going left, we’re going to be going right.
DL: What do you mean, there’s a change in the air?
Cowell: Look, I’m not going to tell people in advance what we’re doing. When you’re making a reality show, you can’t even plan a week ahead now. So we’re hopefully going to be in sync with what’s happening in the States at the time. I like to try and make as many decisions as late as possible. What I will say is that it will be like nothing else you’ve seen before on American TV, I guarantee you that. There are a lot of surprises in store, there’s going to be a lot of surprises. But I’m going for it.
DL: How would you describe what the new show’s going to be like for U.S. viewers used to American Idol?
Cowell: Zero rules. Because I can’t bear rules. For instance, I’ve never liked the idea you have to be a certain age to be a pop star. I like the idea that anybody can enter, anybody can compete. And obviously the fact that groups can compete as well as individuals. They haven’t had that on American TV before. I thought long and hard about whether to bring the show over to America or not. The show’s done so well all over the world, and I think to myself ‘Is this room for one more show?’ What’s never happened in America before is a big talent show that runs up to Christmastime. The US show will run from September to December next year. We’re putting a lot of resources behind it. But the main thing is that we’re going to America because there’s a lot of talent in America and there’s a lot of people over the age of 30 who want to get to these shows as well. It should be a 14-year-old competing against a 50-year-old competing against the next ‘N Sync. That to me is an interesting show because it’s got a variety of contestants. And we are going to scour the whole country to make sure that the whole of America is aware of the show and is given the chance to audition in as many different places as possible.
This sounds like a conveniently timed media uproar just as Simon Cowell’s UK-broadcast The X Factor airs its first 2½ hour live show beginning tonight. Or else it’s the 5th recent TV scandal plaguing Cowell. In any case, Simon is defending his show’s producers after a UK newspaper claimed they knew one short-listed contestant faced deportation and told X Factor judge Cheryl Cole not to pick her. Instead, pop singer Cole chose two other contestants over viewer favourite Gamu Nhengu, the Zimbabwe-born 18 year old. Cowell told Deadline that it’s not true that the show’s producers ordered Cole to drop Nhengu. “We were unaware there would be any problem with her visa until this week,” he told Deadline.
The X Factor boss has allowed one contestant to stay on the show despite knowing she’s a hooker. “We haven’t banned prostitutes,” Cowell said. “If a person applies to The X Factor, it’s obvious they want to do something better with their life.” Nineteen year old Chloe Mafia (real name Chloe Heald) told judges she was jobless, and got through to the boot-camp stage despite audience boos. Tabloid newspapers are currently negotiating five-figure deals with the teenager about her more than 140 arrests. There’s already been scandal after scandal, some about audio enhancements used on the talent show. But, as Cowell knows, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.The X Factor, produced by Cowell’s production company Syco, is pulling in its highest Saturday night ratings of the series so far. The 5th episode of the singing competition peaked with an audience of nearly 13 million on ITV1 and a 52% audience share.
The network is trying to tie The X Factor supremo down to a 3-year deal. Cowell said on Friday that the UK X Factor could move to January 2012 to accommodate next year’s U.S. version. ITV executives have been looking for replacements for its ratings juggernaut, which got 10.8 million viewers on Saturday. Network executives had hoped the talent show would be running out of steam by this Fall’s series 7, giving them greater bargaining power. Cowell, 50, has even coined the nickname Mr ITV because he is so powerful at the station. ITV has assured Cowell it has the extra £4 million a year he wants pumped into The X Factor. “What we’re trying to do is make better shows than we’ve done before,” Cowell told the BBC. “If we can’t do that, there’s no point in doing it.” Given that Cowell’s current £6 million a year contract expires at the end of 2010, you do wonder why it’s taken ITV this long to get their biggest star to renew. Meanwhile, Cowell is investigating getting into the movie business providing he can find the right partner.
ITV has assured X Factor boss Simon Cowell that it has enough money to do a revamp of the show as planned. “What we’re trying to do is make better shows than we’ve done before,” Cowell told the BBC. “If we can’t do that, there’s no point in doing it.” Filming on the US X Factor stars next March, which could mean moving the next Britain’s Got Talent series to Fall 2011. Cowell said that he was setting up a joint venture with new CNN host Piers Morgan for talk shows. “He’s a brilliant interviewer,” said Cowell. The X Factor boss also called Lou Reed “petty and pathetic” for not allowing Susan Boyle to perform
Simon Cowell has dumped the episode of the show that was planned to air tomorrow because it’s not up to his standards, says the Daily Mail. Instead, TV viewers will see the show which was meant to air on September 4. Cowell says that people have to be able to trust The X Factor because of the cheating scandal. Supposedly, he was up until 3 AM on Thursday morning editing two shows side by side. He then made the decision to swap them round. The show’s producers have been accused of cheating after it emerged that contestant Gamu Nhengu had her vocal Auto-Tuned. More than 300 fans complained to ITV — and regulator Ofcom said it is investigating any accusations of unfair advantage. It has also emerged that show producer Talkback Thames used sound-filtering technology during auditions of another of Cowell’s UK shows, Britain’s Got Talent.
UPDATE: Susan Boyle’s famous audition for Britain’s Got Talent was digitally tweaked, according to a show insider. The Evening Standard quotes an anonymous source saying that the show’s production team — which is the same as The X Factor — smoothed out the Scottish singer’s voice in post-production.
PREVIOUS: Talkback Thames, which co-produces Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent with his Syco, has admitted to me that the show has used Auto-Tune to make auditions sound better. (Auto-Tune is primarily designed to correct pitch and disguise off-key mistakes as well as filter outside noise.) This is now the 2nd Cowell contest show which is using sound enhancement technology and the 3rd Cowell contest show which is cheating. ”In line with standard television practice, sound filtering technology has been used on Britain’s Got Talent on our pre-recorded shows, but this does not unfairly reflect any singer’s performance. The performance shown on screen is a fair reflection of performance given in the live theatre. Judges make their decision based on that live performance,” Talkback Thames emailed me. The producers are trying to split hairs; they claim the sound enhancement software is used only in post-production, and that Cowell and fellow panelists Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden do hear and judge only the performers’ raw efforts. But the audience is deprived of making fair comparisons about the contestants’ talent amid allegations that some singers are advancing because of interesting backstories instead of vocal …
The UK show’s bosses are debating whether to drop a contestant from this season’s first episode after it emerged she already has a record contract in the U.S. Katie Waissel, 24, sailed through to the next round after Saturday night’s opening show, not telling producers Syco and Talkback Thames that she already has a two-record deal on a jazz label.
Simon Cowell, meanwhile, has banned performance-enhancing software from edited pre-recorded auditions. The X Factor has become embroiled in what newspapers are gleefully calling “the TV scandal of the year”. Cowell is anxious to shore up the talent show’s reputation before it transfers to the U.S. in Fall 2011. Viewers have complained to UK regulator Ofcom about Zimbabwean-born contestant Gamu Nhengu having her voice tweaked with Auto-Tune. Before this scandal, Nhengu was tipped as a potential winner. Programme-makers have admitted using Auto-Tune to help contestants when they sing sharp. Worse, it has emerged the software is also used to make no-hopers sound worse. “The integrity of the show is very important to him [Cowell] and so he told production that Auto-Tune cannot be used again,” one source told the Daily Mirror.
Syco has stressed that Auto-Tuning is never used in the live editions of the show, where votes are cast. “If anybody could prove that Auto-Tuning is used in the live shows, then they have a real problem,” one …