‘X Factor': How Will Astro Address Last Week’s Drama?

Plus: Nicole Scherzinger's Over 30's step it up after Stacy Francis' ouster.

MTV News’ own Jim Cantiello is exclusively covering “The X Factor” rehearsals. Read on for his fly-on-the-wall backstage report!

We’re five weeks into the “X Factor” live shows, and sleep deprivation has finally caught up with everyone. Not just the contestants, mind you, but the crew too. With Thanksgiving shifting the production schedule up a day, Team X has been working for almost two weeks straight without a day off. During rehearsals, contestants are cramming in this week’s performances as well as next week’s songs to allow for a day or two off this holiday week — not to mention a double elimination looming over everyone’s heads.

And you thought last week’s Astro drama was intense.

Speaking of ’Stro, the young MC is ready to accept any backlash headed his way after his defiant moment in the bottom two. He’s already apologized on his Facebook wall and on Twitter, but I’m also hearing rumblings of an apology in his pre-performance package. Plus, as he always does, he’ll be performing an autobiographical original verse, so you might want to pay extra-close attention to his sly wordplay.

Fresh off sending Stacy Francis home , Nicole Scherzinger is pushing her remaining Over 30’s to be as bold as possible. Perhaps that’s why one dude’s tackling an instrument — a live-show first! — and the other dude is trying his hand at a girl’s song. Will the risks pay off? (They certainly did in rehearsals.)

Over the weekend, one of Simon Cowell’s girls got a taste of movie magic as she performed in front of a giant green screen. Creative director Brian Friedman shouted descriptions to her to help situate her in a virtual world, which was then digitally added in postproduction. She won’t be performing in front of a green screen come Tuesday night, however. All that work was just for a background graphic that will play behind her as she sings live.

Thanks to everyone’s exhaustion, some “X Factor” team members are getting even punchier and zanier. Stylist June Ambrose popped outside of her trailer in a glittery head wrap that would have been perfect for Gloria Swanson had she ever visited Studio 54. “I’m disco, darling,” she proclaimed to the crew members walking by. Her playful antics caught the eye of judge and mentor Paula Abdul, who quickly ran over to the trailer for an impromptu dress-up play date. If only I got an invite …

In other Paula news, the mentor all but gave away country-pop group Lakoda Rayne’s song choice during a Ustream broadcast with fans. “It’s a song by someone who did pretty great these past 24 hours. And won lots of awards,” she coyly said. (One only needs to check out the list of 2011 American Music Awards winners to be able to whittle down what artist Lakoda Rayne will be paying homage to in Tuesday’s live show.)

And I’ll leave you with my biggest burning question of the week: Will the paint dry in time? Seriously! Hours before showtime, one particular set piece was being slathered with a new coat at the last minute. And considering a contestant will be performing on this Aggro Crag-like structure, will her outfit get soiled by wet paint? Keep your eyes peeled, those of you with HD TVs!

You can catch Jim on the “X Factor Pepsi Pre-Show,” streaming at 7 p.m. ET tonight on TheXFactorUSA.com!