February 8th, 2011
09:48 AM ET
It seems as if everything Simon Cowell touches turns to gold: the original “X Factor,” “America’s Got Talent,” “American Idol.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s not nervous about the fall premiere of Fox’s “The X Factor.” After all, $5 million is a lot of money.
“I think you should be nervous,” Cowell told reporters on a conference call Monday. “By putting up that kind of prize money, it’s a massive, massive risk. But it’s also an incredible incentive, and I think it puts everybody, rightly, under an enormous amount of pressure.”
“Is it the look? Is it the voice? Over the years recently you’ve seen a different kind of artist emerge. A good example of that is Lady Gaga – God only knows what we would have said to her if she had walked into ‘Idol’ three years ago with a lobster on her head. But she’s got it.”
In case you’re thinking, “Geez, Simon, do we really need yet ANOTHER reality talent competition?”… his answer is yes. And don’t even bother trying to compare “The X Factor” to “American Idol.”
“I suppose it’s rather like comparing, I don’t know, ‘Extreme Home Makeover' with ‘Jersey Shore,’” he said. “They’re both reality shows but very, very different. ‘X Factor’ has a craziness about it, has an unpredictability about it. I would say it’s more raw.”
The formats of the shows vary in several ways. Anyone over the age of 12 can audition for “X Factor,” either as a group or as an individual. There’s no age limit because, as Cowell puts it, you just can’t put a cap on talent. And prospective stars audition in front of a live audience of about 5,000 people.
The judges are also more involved in “X Factor,” each mentoring several finalists by helping them with their song choices, clothing style, etc.
“The reason we replaced ‘Idol’ with ‘The X Factor’ in the U.K. to begin with is that I got bored just judging,” Cowell said. “It’s an interesting thing to be judged as well as the competitor because when you lose an artist, you know part of you has lost as well. It really does become incredibly competitive between the judges… in a way they’re more competitive than the artists because we don’t pretend to like each other.”
Speaking of the judges, Cowell isn’t ready to announce who will be joining him on the panel. But he expects to make his final decision in the next three or four weeks. Right now, he’s encouraging anyone and everyone (with talent, of course) to come out and audition.
“There is that person or that group sitting in American right now, waiting to be discovered,” Cowell said. “I miss you guys. I’m glad we’re coming back.”
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