TV reporters learned many things on Friday about Fox’s much, much hyped new fall show “The X Factor” – but the prevailing theme was … Simon still rules.
The charismatic Cowell appeared before TV critics for Fox’s TCA presentation, via satellite from a secret location, with the rest of the cast live on stage in LA, including judges Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid, along with host Steve Jones and executive producer Mike Darnell.
And what Simon says is a lot, and devilishly, delightfully so, but what he really wanted to get across to the press, and to viewers, is that this is NOT just another reality singing competition. Allegedly.
“I wouldn’t have made the show if I didn’t think it would be different,” Simon says. “We see this as a game changer.”
“You don’t enter something for the silver medal,” he added, “we want to be #1 and we’re going to try to be the best and throw everything at it.”
To put his money where his mouth is, Cowell and company are upping the stakes for this one: Whoever proves to have the ultimate “X Factor” will hit the jackpot, winning one of the biggest cash prizes in reality show history – $5 million dollars – and that is guaranteed. Fox also announced Friday that the winner will get to star in a Pepsi commercial to air during NBC’s telecast of Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 12.
Here are some other things we learned about the show:
“We’re going to show the good bits, the bad bits, the ugly bits — and there are a lot of ugly bits” – Simon.
“LA and I have front row seats to the Sonny and Cher show” – Nicole Scherzinger, joking about Simon and Paula’s rapport.
“We all do respect each other, but we do get on each others’ nerves at times” – Paula on her new (and old) costars
On Being Mean:
“We didn’t make it intentional to be mean, that’s just in us. Sometimes contestants are mean to us, so it’s give and take” – Simon
On What’s Different [from 'American Idol' and 'The Voice']:
“It’s completely different, it’s grand in scale, it’s an epic feeling, I’ve never witnessed so much talent … there are stars that are going to emerge from each of the four categories [men, women, groups, young ones], I truly believe that” – Paula
On Mentors and Mariah Carey’s participation in the show:
Simon: “On certain sections of show, we have well-known people helping us, and I’m hoping Mariah will be one of those mentors. Because she selfishly got pregnant and that’s why she didn’t end up as a judge.”
On the Younger Age Range of the Contestants:
Simon: “The 14 year olds are more lippy than any contestants I’ve seen in my life, I was quite traumatized after the auditions … Parents are parents, they go nuts at me anyway. But were quite careful, you make a call whether the kids are up for it or not. In one audition, a little rapper absolutely chewed me apart … but I kind of like that.”
The Best of the Paula and Simon Zingers:
“It’s nice to be back in a demented relationship. It’s like home,” Paula on reuniting with Simon.
“I think it’s more like The Exorcist 2,” Simon on reuniting with Paula.
“Simon is a completely different species on this show … he’s turned into me. He’s turned into a pussy cat, very sweet,” Paula, joking about Simon’s demeanor on “X Factor.”
“If it was a question of not getting on with Paula, then I wouldn’t be on the show,” Simon denying rumors that short-lived judge Cheryl Cole was axed because she didn’t get along with Abdul.
“As Paula would know, I’m all for giving people a comeback … It’s true everybody deserves a third chance,” Simon joked, adding, “I’m miles away, Paula, there’s nothing you can do.” “Go away,” Paula replied.
Get a Taste of “The X Factor”:
Fox also revealed the “X Factor” schedule:
~The two-night, four-hour premiere: Sept. 21 and 22 (featuring live auditions from Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark and Seattle)
~Performance “Boot Camp” in LA: Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 5 and 6 (8-9:30 p.m.).
~Live shows and judges’ homes’ visit: Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 12 and 13 (8-9:30 p.m.) and Thursday Oct. 18 (8-9:30 p.m.).
~Finalists Revealed: Oct. 25 (8-10:30 p.m.)
~Viewer voting begins: Nov. 2
~The two-night finale: Dec. 21 and 22