Everyone’s favorite reality-TV couple are back together. After weeks of rumors and a reported 11th-hour contract signing that nearly derailed the first day of auditions, former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul has officially taken her seat beside her ex-”Idol” sparring partner Simon Cowell on his upcoming U.S. version of “The X Factor.”
Announced on Sunday evening, the addition of Abdul to the show completes the judging panel, which also includes former music executive Antonio “L.A.” Reid and British singer and U.K. “X Factor” judge Cheryl Cole .
“This show would never have been the same without Paula and I can’t believe I am saying this — I have missed her a lot, and I am thrilled she’s on the show,” said Cowell in a statement announcing the long-rumored news. According to reports, Cowell was prepared to pull the plug on Sunday’s auditions when Abdul didn’t sign her contract until just before taking the stage.
“I am excited beyond words to be a part of the ‘X Factor.’ I couldn’t be happier to bring my love for cultivating talent and performance to such a wildly anticipated show,” said Abdul in the announcement. “[I] know that it will be an extraordinary journey — we’re going to have a blast. I’m also delighted and grateful to be sitting next to Simon again … but you might want to check back with me in a week or two!”
Abdul was onstage on Sunday during the first round of auditions, which Entertainment Weekly reported featured a parade of not-great singers, as well as Reid taking a not-so-subtle dig at “Idol” judge Randy Jackson. He reportedly said, “To be clear, I’m not the Randy of the panel … I don’t say ‘dawg,’ but I do judge talent honestly … I may not even agree with what you guys think … I’ve had more success at it than you.” Reid also apparently clashed with the audience later on, disagreeing with them about a 35-year-old female rapper/singer, whom the crowd loved though he voted voted no for, leading to loud boos for his harsh judgment and a second chance for her due to the audience’s demands.
Open auditions for the show will continue in Dallas on May 26. Unlike other reality singing competitions, contestants on “X Factor” sing in front of an audience of thousands as well as the four judges in their first audition.
Though Cowell told the audience that they would serve as the “fifth judge” and be relied on to help decide who will get the $5 million grand prize, The Hollywood Reporter said the crowd apparently was taking that advice too far and had to be asked by producers to boo the singers less as a way to “temper negativity on the show.”
The program also revealed its co-hosts over the weekend, former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger and British TV personality Steve Jones. Though her solo singing career has struggled to take off, Scherzinger has found success as a guest judge on the U.K. version of “The X Factor.”
Virtually unknown to American audiences, Jones is a popular former male model and host of a variety of British TV series, including the children’s variety program “T4″ and the “Guinness World Records Smashed!” special, as well as upcoming shows “Drop Zone,” “Wedding Crashers” and “101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow.”
The self-deprecating host made light of his anonymity in America, joking, “You’re probably wondering, who the hell is this douche?” while taking the stage for Sunday’s Los Angeles auditions, according to reports. “I just moved here two days ago.”
“These two are going to be great together,” said Cowell. “I have always wanted Steve to work with us; I think he is a real star. Nicole is fantastic. I loved working with her on the U.K. ‘X Factor’ last year. She is gorgeous and super-talented.”
Scherzinger, too, said she was excited to be on the Stateside version of the program, which is slated to launch in the fall. “I am thrilled to be asked by Simon Cowell to host ‘The X Factor’,” said the singer, who also is a one-time “Dancing With the Stars” winner. “I loved working alongside Simon on the U.K. show, and cannot wait to see what he has in store for the U.S. I’m so excited to work with Steve Jones and help discover astounding talent from across the country!”
How do you feel about Paula Abdul joining “The X Factor” and the newly announced co-hosts for the show? Share your opinions in the comments.