Simon Cowell Will Face Judges' Jabs On New Reality Show

By | May 4, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Simon Cowell will soon get a taste of his own venom.

The ruthless Brit is creating a new “American Idol”-like series called “The X Factor” in which he and two other judges will not only choose the finalists, they’ll work with them on the performances and together face the critiques of the other judges.

“It’s too safe sometimes for me on this show, ‘Idol,’ because I have no responsibility,” Cowell said. “I just sit there smugly and pass on judgment. I wanted to actually create one show where I was held responsible, as well as the artist.”

“The X Factor,” which will debut in September in England (Cowell hopes to bring it to America shortly after), will also differ from “American Idol” in that there will be no age cap.

“I was going to make it 18- to 40-year-olds, but then I thought, ‘I know what’s going to happen – I’m going to get tons of letters from 41-year-olds,’ ” Cowell explained. “Where do you draw the line? So I figured why not open this up for everyone and why don’t we allow singing groups to enter as well as solo artists, because I really wanted to do the biggest talent search in history, and that, to me, felt like the right way of doing it.”

“The X Factor” will comb the U.K. for talented singers, which will first be whittled down to 120. That group will then be divided into three groups with each being assigned a judge to mentor them. Louis Walsh, former judge of the U.K. reality show “Popstars,” will be another judge, and former Spice Girl Mel B is being considered for the third.

Like “Idol,” viewers will vote for their favorites after critiques from the two judges who are not the performer’s mentor.

Cowell revealed details about “The X Factor” after a press conference last week for another new business venture for the former Westlife manager, the official “American Idol” cell phone. Along with exclusive messages from the contestants, the phone will include ring tones of snide Cowell comments.

“The reason I actually agreed to do this is it’s a bit like the show in that it’s funny,” Cowell said. “There’s so many people that come to me with merchandise which is so safe and boring.”

The phone will also feature text and voice messages from Cowell, but not the other “American Idol” judges. “I know, it’s a shame isn’t it?” Cowell said, smirking. “They would need to make a bigger phone to get Randy’s picture on there.”

As for the show that made Cowell a household name in America, the judge called Fantasia Barrino his favorite before the finals, but he’s not so sure now.

“I’m a little bit worried about Fantasia at the moment because I think the edge has gone off her,” Simon said. “It’s not the same person I remember, but I still like her.”

Related Content