After weeks of speculation, it looks like Britney Spears and Demi Lovato are on their way to the judges panel on Fox's "The X Factor."
Spears has been a rumored front-runner to join the series since news broke back in March that she was in negotiations for the gig. Lovato's name has been swirling around since earlier this month.
Fox executives wouldn't comment on the speculation in a conference call with reporters Monday morning (they also didn't exactly deny it), but the network is expected to make it official during its upfront presentation to advertisers Monday afternoon.
Many candidates were reportedly discussed as possible replacements for Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul, including Miley Cyrus, Fergie, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. Scherzinger and Abdul were victims of the major overhaul after the singing competition's first season.
If Spears does join Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid on the judges panel, it would pit her against fellow "Mickey Mouse Club" alum Christina Aguilera, who is a judge/mentor on "The Voice."
Just last year, she was the spunky 13-year-old girl charming "The X Factor's" panel of judges with her sassy rendition of "Mercy." A few months later, she was the girl who fell to the floor sobbing and wailing after an earlier-than-expected elimination sent her packing from the reality competition. These days, she's being groomed to be Nickelodeon's next teen sensation.
"Tired is not really in my vocabulary anymore," said Rachel Crow. On a recent weekday, the Colorado native is seated in a chair inside the Nickelodeon offices in Santa Monica, her feet barely touching the floor. She's every bit the bubbly personality that she exuded during her "X Factor" debut as she speaks with aplomb about her new endeavors. She's almost a little too poised (as you may surmise from her answers) for her age, now 14.
"It's amazing to think that a small town girl like me can find themselves on Nickelodeon," she said.
Crow, who is now a Sherman Oaks transplant, will star in her own show on the network in the near future. But before then, she's getting comfortable on the youth-centered network with a recurring role on "Fred: The Show"--she plays Starr, Fred’s (Lucas Cruikshank) spirited, yet awkward classmate who--fittingly--has ambitions to be a famous actress and singer. She made her debut last week, and in Friday's episode continues her arc.
Britney Spears hasn't yet signed on the dotted line of what's reportedly a $10-million offer to be a judge on Simon Cowell's "The X Factor" next season, but fans of the show (and of Brit-Brit) are already making their opinions known online. And if there's one overriding sentiment being expressed by the masses, it's excitement (for various reasons), though tempered with caution.
After all, Britney Spears hasn't had the smoothest ride in recent years.
Protective fan Nick Harris tweeted, "Dear @britneyspears please don't do the X factor.... Leave those shows for nobodies like christina, please and thank you!"
A Britney fan from Manila tweeted, "If @britneyspears on X Factor USA will pursue, Im gonna watch every single episode! Hello? She's been out of the television for like decades."
Non-fan Mark Sundstrom wrote, "The idea of Britney Spears judging/coaching a supposed SINGING contest... is beyond hilarious. When has she ever really SAAANG? Star Search?"
Miami Herald blogger Lesley Abravanel echoed that sentiment when she wrote, "If X Factor hires Britney Spears as judge, does that mean that part of that elusive factor now includes killer lip syncing skills?"
Washington, D.C., resident Nicole Cahill wrote, "i like watching hot messes on tv for all of the cringeworthy moments-and because of that, I will be watching x factor with ms britney spears."
And self-proclaimed Canadian cultural studies geek Michelle Gonsalves cautioned, "#badideas, kids. She's horrible under pressure."
Maybe the crying for Rachel Crow will stop now? “The X Factor” contestant from last season has signed a talent deal with Nickelodeon. If that weren’t enough to keep the tears at bay, the 14-year-old has also wrangled a recording deal with Columbia Records.
In addition to starring in her own pilot on Nickelodeon, Crow will have a recurring role in the network’s new comedy series “Fred: The Show," where she'll play an awkward teenager whose acting and singing abilities aren’t taken seriously by her classmates.
Crow has also been signed by Sony Music's Columbia Records in partnership with her "X Factor" mentor Simon Cowell's company, Syco.
“It’s such an honor to be signed to Columbia Records,” Crow said in a statement. “To think that I am signed to the same label as my idols is a dream come true. I can’t wait to get in the studio and start making music.” Added Crow, “And I am so excited to now be a part of the Nickelodeon family. I grew up watching Nick, and I’m a huge fan.”
Cowell offered the following canned statement: “I am incredibly happy for Rachel. This girl has it. We saw her potential at the first audition, and Nickelodeon and Columbia are the right homes for her.”
Nicole Scherzinger had it coming on "The X-Factor."
That's what Rachel Crow fans are saying today upon hearing the news that Scherzinger was fired from the Fox talent show along with co-judge Paula Abdul and host Steve Jones during a bit of Simon Cowell-directed housecleaning.
Now, there will be plenty of debate about whether Abdul and Jones deserved their pink slips. But Scherzinger? Let's just say that her critics are absolutely crowing about her departure.
Here are just a few of the gloats broadcast on Twitter:
--"Is it Rachel Crow's revenge?"
--"I hope Rachel Crow got to deliver the news to her."
--And this, from Bonnie Fuller, editor of HollywoodLife.com: "#xfactor: Nicole Scherz gone. She sealed her fate refusg 2 vote between Rachel Crow + Marcus Canty.
Fuller is referring to the viewer backlash that took place when Scherzinger refused -- refused! -- to do her job as a judge and actually, you know, judge.
Under "The X-Factor's" format, contestants compete each week according to viewer voting based on the previous week's performance. The bottom two competitors face off in a live "sing-for-your-life" showdown, which judges use as the final determination as to whom to send home. In the case of a tie, the viewers' votes determine the outcome.
In the week that triggered all the controversy, fan favorite and 13-year-old phenom Rachel Crow squared off against Marcus Canty, and the pint-sized Crow, by nearly all accounts, delivered the far superior performance.
But Scherzinger just couldn't bring herself to make a decision. Instead she -- SOB! SNIFF! DAB AT HEAVILY MADE-UP EYES WITH TISSUE! -- allowed voters to decide, based on the previous week's performance. "I can't, I can't make this decision, please, I can't make this decision!" she said tearfully.
Long story short, victory was handed to Canty, Crow collapsed on stage and cried her eyes out, and viewers wanted Scherzinger's head on a stick.
It even led to criticism about the show's elimination process. After all, what's the point of having a "save-me" song if it really won't matter in a deadlock situation?
Do you think Scherzinger got what she deserved? What do you think about the shakeup on the show? And, looking forward to Season 2 of "X-Factor": Who would you like to nominate for judges table?
As you might imagine, this story will continue to unfold throughout the day, so keep checking back for the latest news.
Monday was pink slip day at "The X Factor," with Paula Abdul apparently the latest to get sent packing.
In a major housecleaning, creator and lead judge Simon Cowell decided to boot half the judging quartet from Fox's singing show, which returns for Season 2 this fall. Nicole Scherzinger was likewise shown the door (Fox confirmed Scherzinger's exit but not, for some reason, Abdul's, even after it was reported by multiple media outlets; neither Cowell nor a rep replied to messages Monday night).
Host Steve Jones was also told his services would no longer be needed. Presumably the only two on-camera personalities returning will be Cowell and fellow judge and music mogul L.A. Reid.
In some ways, the departures are not a surprise. The singing groups mentored by Abdul were eliminated in short order on last fall's shows, a result that irked Cowell. Scherzinger's contestants -- all over 30 -- fared better, but Cowell openly questioned the pop singer's mentoring skills and ridiculed her judging comments as empty. As host, Jones often appeared tense and was reduced to imploring the judges to make up their minds when time ran short.
Even so, the swiftness of the shakeup came as a major surprise, especially considering the tortuous back and forth over Cheryl Cole's seat at the judging table last year. But one insider said Cowell was shaken by the show's relatively cool ratings reception last fall -- before the premiere, he said "X Factor" could be bigger than "American Idol," his former employer -- and over the season came to believe that big changes were needed.
Who do you think should replace Abdul, Scherzinger and Jones?
"The X Factor" is cleaning house! Earlier Monday evening, Steve Jones announced via Twitter that he won't be back next season. And now a show representative has confirmed that judge Nicole Scherzinger has been given the pink slip.
Scherzinger joined the judges panel shortly after the series began taping, taking the spot of Cheryl Cole, who was dropped. The former Pussycat Dolls frontwoman had originally been on deck to co-host with Jones.
Scherzinger, like Jones in some ways, failed to ingratiate herself with "The X Factor" viewers, with some critics calling for her impeachment on Twitter.
After a season of telling contestants they had reached the end of the road on "The X Factor," host Steve Jones is now telling himself the same thing. The British import will not be returning for a second season.
The news came from Jones, who tweeted Monday afternoon: "I wont be hosting next seasons XFactor which is a shame but I cant complain as I've had a great time. Good luck to everyone on the show." A Fox spokesperson also confirmed his exit.
Not the most shocking tweet. Speculation of his departure had been swirling since the season wrapped in December. At the time, a show spokesperson would say only that "no decisions had been made about any contracts." The decision finally got made, it seems.
To some viewers, Jones had a precarious hosting style. He was often criticized for his poor choice of words when giving eliminated contestants their send-off.
Request for comment from show creator Simon Cowell was not immediately returned. Fox did not say when a replacement would be selected.
Melanie Amaro, the freshly crowned Season 1 winner of "The X Factor," sounded tired and perhaps still a little dizzy after her big win as she took reporters' questions over the phone Friday morning. It was understandable: She'd had no sleep since getting the life-changing news Thursday night, having given what she estimated to be around 30 interviews in the intervening hours.
She wouldn't release details about her plans for a forthcoming album. ("I'm going to keep that as a surprise," she said, adding, "I'm just going to say that you should look forward to it and know that I'm going to make some great music.") But even exhausted, Amaro, who revealed only the occasional hint of the Caribbean accent she slipped so comfortably into midway through the season, was unfailingly gracious and thoughtful as she addressed such topics as which contestant she felt had been her biggest competition, how she managed to forgive Simon Cowell for sending her home prematurely, and whether she had believed she'd actually win it all.
Here's some of what she had to say:
On what was going through her head when she won: It's so surreal. I feel amazing. I feel as though I'm in a dream. This is not real. Last night was an amazing thing for me … I was so shocked … I feel so blessed.
On what she's going to do with the prize money: I'm definitely going to buy myself a foot massager and buy my mom a new house.
On who she felt had been her biggest competition: I thought Chris Rene was my biggest competition [because] everyone knew he was an original artist and he wrote his own music and he connected well with everyone.
On how she thinks her talent compared to the other finalists: I think my talent was a gift, and I think I had a big range, a stronger range than a lot of the other contestants. I think me doing what I do with all of my heart kind of put me apart from a lot of the other contestants, because when I sing, I sing with all of me. I sing to the very, very pit of my soul.
No matter who wins "The X Factor" Thursday night, the final performance show Wednesday made one thing perfectly clear: All three of the top three finalists – Josh Krajcik, Chris Rene and Melanie Amaro – are supertalented and will almost certainly go on to have successful music careers.
Any of the three could walk away with the crown. It just depends on whether voters have connected more strongly with the bluesy rocker who's been slinging burritos and singing in small clubs, waiting for his big break (Krajcik), or the sweet-voiced, back-from-the-brink former addict with the winning swagger and the tender heart (Rene), or the church-going, formerly bullied young woman with the gigantic, supple voice and diva stage presence (Amaro). Really, it's anybody's call.
On Wednesday night, viewers got to hear from each singer twice, unless you count the contestants' group number, on which they were joined by metallic dancers from Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson, the Immortal World Tour." (Fox and the Jackson estate clearly can't get enough of each other. Not sure what's going on there.)
First, each contestant did a "surprise" duet with a major star. Krajcik was joined on Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited" by Morissette herself, turning in what Simon Cowell rightly summed up as an "8 out of 10" performance. (L.A. Reid, who revealed that Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" is his favorite album, called the Krajcik-Morissette duet "surreal," and it appeared he meant it as a compliment.)
Then Rene -– eight months sober as of Tuesday -- bounced around onstage with Avril Lavigne on Lavigne's "Complicated," after which Paula Abdul complimented him on his "energy" and Cowell declared the duet record-worthy. (Reid added that such a record would be "a No. 1 hit.")
Amaro, for her part, sang in a lower-than-usual register with R. Kelly, their two voices comfortably mingling on Kelly's mega-hit "I Believe I Can Fly." Reid thought Amaro was overpowered, but Cowell thought she looked like "a star."
In between all that, there was a lot of yelling from people in the contestants' home towns.
Then the contestants came back with the solo performances with which they hoped to win viewers' votes for one last all-important time. Those performances turned out to be reprises of their original auditions. Rather than showing us how far they'd come, they reminded us of what we loved about each of them in the first place. Krajcik showed his grit, earnestness and passion on Etta James' "At Last," on which he accompanied himself on guitar, perched (a bit worryingly) on a high platform fronted by a lighted set of stairs. "You're such a rock star," Reid told him.
Rene showed his sweetness and conviction on his own song "Young Homie," this time all polished up with musical accompaniment, backup dancers and a full-on light-show. "You are magic," Abdul declared. Cowell called Rene a "man of your word … a brilliant performer, a true gentlemen and a really nice guy," and said he hoped America would support him.
And Amaro? She sang Beyonce's "Listen" so powerfully she nearly blew the rest of the night away. "That wasn't a $5-million performance," Reid said. "That was a $50-million performance." Cowell, Amaro's mentor, put it even more bluntly. "To me, you should be the winner of 'The X Factor,'" he said.
Personally, I've really grown to adore each of these three contestants over the weeks, and I'd be pleased to see any of them win. But the one I'd most hate to see lose? That would have to be Amaro. She's come back from so much – not least of which was the disappointment of being prematurely sent home by Cowell earlier this season, before he thought better of it and brought her back. We've watched Amaro's dream slip away before. I'd really rather not see it happen again.
Who would you like to see win "The X Factor" Thursday night?
Is Steve Jones the new Brian Dunkleman? Rumors have been circulating that Jones — the tall, dark and British host of Fox's "The X Factor" — won't be returning for the show's second season.
A report in England's Daily Mirror cites unnamed sources claiming "terrible reviews" and failure to connect with the show's U.S. audience are behind the decision not to bring him back. The paper also hints that Nicole Scherzinger, who had originally been tapped to cohost with Jones before being upgraded to the judges table, would take over his duties. That would put Jones in the club of short-lived hosts, along with Dunkleman, "American Idol's" first-season cohost.
A spokesperson for "The X Factor" didn't exactly confirm or deny the rumors, giving Show Tracker the following statement: "Absolutely no discussions have been had and no decisions will be made about any contracts until the New Year."
Should Jones really be leaving the show, it might not be that surprising. When The Times spoke with the British import before the launch of the singing competition series, he was cautious about assuming he'd have any long-term future on the show.
"I definitely want to do more stuff over here," he said. "But a little bit at a time. My main concern at the moment is "X Factor." If I do come back next year, then I’ll think about other projects .... But I do want to keep my fingers and knees deep in British pies."
As the show has unfolded since its September debut, Jones hasn't exactly ingratiated himself in the eyes of viewers with his hosting style. Earlier in the season, he used the poor choice of words, "The dream is over," when girl group Ladoka Rayne was eliminated; the incident prompted a group member to grab the microphone and proclaim otherwise.
According to Jones' publicist, rumblings of an exit are all speculation: "The Mirror story is a fabrication that we would have corrected had we been called for comment. There have been absolutely no conversations about Steve Jones Leaving "The X Factor." Steve is very happy with the outcome of this season and he looks forward to being back and discovering more talent in the new year."