MTV News' own Jim Cantiello is exclusively covering "The X Factor" rehearsals. Read on for his fly-on-the-wall backstage report!
"X Factor" mentor Paula Abdul is determined to keep her remaining groups — the Stereo Hogzz and Lakoda Rayne — out of the bottom two come results time Thursday night. She's always hands-on with her contestants, whether TV cameras are around or not, but last week's all-group bottom two have made her even more passionate about her job.
This week in "X Factor" land, Abdul was everywhere you looked, from inside the house powwowing with choreographer Brian Friedman and vocal producer Claude Kelly to the middle of the studio's parking lot, where she had the crew erect a giant set piece so one of her groups could rehearse on it before they got thrown onstage.
Once it came time to rehearse inside the house, Paula huddled with her groups. Literally, they formed a huddle, like football players. Unlike the NFL, however, the quarterback was wearing showstopping stilettos, which made huddling all the more impressive. Breaking news: Paula Abdul has great balance!
During rehearsal, Abdul was up on her feet behind the judging table, rocking the choreo for her groups. If a camera caught her, she'd look like one of those overzealous pageant moms on "Toddlers & Tiaras," only way more fabulous. (Her stilettos deserve a second shout-out, you guys. They were that fierce!) Not only that, she can still really dance, straight up. And her enthusiasm for her acts is infectious.
But it's not only the groups that are jazzed for Wednesday night's (November 9) performance episode. I overheard one of the Over 30's telling a producer how all 11 remaining acts will look especially good this go-round. "We're all so comfortable with our song choices this week," the contestant gushed.
Meanwhile, the backup dancers are quickly becoming the hardest-working members of the "X Factor" team, and their multitasking skills have reached new heights. Exhibit A: Two shirtless male dancers were spotted outside the stage doors working on their suntans while also devouring a plate of craft service and going over some dance moves — at the same time!
Dancer skin is pretty common around the "X Factor" stage, actually. In between numbers, you can usually find dozens of backup dancers switching costumes right in front of everyone. (They're not getting buck naked, mind you. This isn't "XXX Factor.")
Other tidbits: One contestant had no trouble maneuvering stairs onstage but, hilariously, was confounded by a mic stand. (Turns out the sparkly prop looked great on camera but was faulty. A standard mic stand will suffice.)
Willow Smith will be popping in to make an appearance on "The X Factor" this week. All eyes are on whether she'll say hello to her dad's old double-decker trailer, which is parked directly outside the studio and houses none other than Simon Cowell. Rumor has it Cowell is angling for a new triple-decker trailer to one-up the Fresh Prince. Amazing.
Speaking of Simon, Nicole Scherzinger banned him from her Over 30's rehearsals. I imagine she doesn't want him taking credit for her contestants' success any more. Smart move, Nicole!
I have a sneaking suspicion Simon will get plenty of raves for his own contestants this week. After one girl finished a run-through, Simon leapt out of his chair to smother her with a bear hug.
Simon was so stoked, in fact, he even stayed around for L.A. Reid's boys' rehearsals and — dare I expose him — actually danced during one of L.A.'s contestants' upbeat numbers. Full disclosure: he does not move like Jagger, but he definitely has impressive rhythm.
The $5 million question: Will he boogie during Wednesday night's live show?
You can catch Jim on the "X Factor Pepsi Pre-Show," streaming at 7 p.m. ET tonight on TheXFactorUSA.com!