With The X Factor details coming fast and furious over the past few days, Simon Cowell participated in a media call yesterday to answer questions about the show and work the press a little. Never one to resist The Caustic T-Shirted One, I called in and have posted the highlights below. Read and get excited about the upcoming Idol-killer all over again!
Would you like Paula Abdul to be an X Factor judge?
Simon Cowell: I'm not going to say who we are going to confirm or who we're not going to confirm, because the truth is we honestly haven't made our minds up yet. We're talking to a number of people, and I expect to make an announcement I would say within three to four weeks -- it might be a little bit longer, I'm not sure -- as to who the panel are going to be.
That having been said about the judges, do you think it's important to have a British presence? There's been talk about you having Cheryl Cole or somebody.
SC: It's interesting, because I've never thought about whether it should be British or American. I think it comes down to who I think is interesting, but the most important criteria for this show is the commitment and the expertise each person offers. On this show, when you reach the live part of the show, each judge is going to mentor three finalists each, and that means you have to work with them up to five or six days a week. I need to find someone who's willing to make that commitment, because it is hard work.
I also think it's important on a show like this that you have people who are very competitive with each other. Essentially, the judges are taking part in this competition as well as the competitors. You want somebody who is competitive. That's why the British/American thing, it's not the most important thing; it's who I'm hoping the American audience will find interesting and actually know what they're talking about.
Are you at all nervous that $5 million is too big of a prize?
SC: Yes, and I think you should be nervous. The reason we decided to do this was to show the people who are auditioning for the show that sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is. By putting up that kind of prize money, it's a massive, massive risk, but it's also an incredible incentive. I think it puts everybody, rightly, under an enormous amount of pressure, because I didn't want to go into this show without feeling a certain amount of pressure. With pressure, you have to find a star. I also did it because I believe I can find a star.
I'm nervous, but I'm also confident that it was the right thing to do. I think it should be a life-changing prize. Just to be clear, this is not 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 to that. It will be paid over five years, $1 million a year for five years, and on top of the Sony label getting behind the artist, we will also be offering financial support for the winner so they don't have to invest their money, look after their money, because that's a lot of cash.
Any thoughts on the new Idol judges -- Steven Tyler and J. Lo?
SC: Well, I haven't seen a full episode yet. I saw three minutes of a recap last week. I think from what I've seen, from what I've heard, it all seems to be going well. I always thought that would be the case. What I was more concerned about was the ratings falling off a cliff, meaning that that whole genre is now over. I think the good news is that people are still excited about these shows, whether it be that show, Dancing with the Stars, which has definitely gotten better over the years, America's Got Talent, which the ratings have gone up over the years. People, thank God, still like these shows, and that gives me more confidence when we launch ours.
In your own words, what is "the X factor"?
SC: It's an expression we've used over the years. I'd heard so many times about "Is it the look, is it the voice," and then over the years recently you've seen a different kind of artist emerge. A good example of that is Lady Gaga. Now, God only knows what we would have said to her if she'd have walked into Idol three years ago with a lobster on her head. I don't know, but she's got it.
Do you think there's too much made of the differences between British and American audiences?
SC: Yes. I do believe that. I think a star is a star. Interesting TV is interesting TV. I don't think you need to over-think it. My commitment is to find the best producers I can to make the best possible show. I've seen it happen also with Dancing with the Stars. I think the American show is brilliant. They did a fantastic job, and I'm sure ABC had the same reservations when they were thinking about bringing it over. If you bring a good format with great producers and a commitment to try to do something different, then I think you have half a chance. I put my trust in the American audience. I have done that for ten years and will continue to.
Your thoughts on the new show? Leave them in the comments!
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