Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid spoke candidly to reporters Wednesday about the major changes coming in the second season of "The X Factor," revealing that while replacements for Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger have not been secured, viewers can expect two female judges to join the panel this fall as well as two hosts — one male and one female.
Addressing rumors that Janet Jackson and Britney Spears have been approached to step in for Abdul and Scherzinger, who were fired from the show in January, Cowell would not confirm whom producers were talking to but did not deny that Jackson was on the table. "You can probably count on two girls," Reid added. "That we can confirm."
"There's a load of speculation, some true, some not true. It's true to say that a lot more people have entered the frame this year. We were waiting to see who was going to contact us before we actually contacted people," Cowell told reporters on the conference call. "We're in that place right now, which is a good place to be in. We will meet a number of people over the next few weeks, mainly to explain to them that this is a big commitment when you do a show like this because of the mentoring aspect."
Reid also elaborated on talk that the late Whitney Houston was in talks to join the show prior to her tragic death on February 11 in Beverly Hills.
"We love Whitney and we would have certainly considered it," he said. "But the truth is, it never quite came to that. There was an entrance there, but we never actually had meetings about it. But, again, we're both huge fans and we're sad about the loss. But we didn't really get that far."
The show will likely honor the "I Will Always Love You" singer when it returns this fall. "I was going to recommend that, that we do a Whitney segment because the music is so amazing and it's so generational and such a challenge for singers,'' Cowell said. ''I have a feeling, just a hunch, that you may see a Whitney tribute on 'The Voice' and 'American Idol' before us. If we decide to do it, we have to do it in a different way. The important thing is that we are going to continually pay tribute to Whitney on this show.''
Rumors abound that a preliminary meeting about Houston joining the show was set to take place on February 13.
Fans shouldn't expect the new judges to be named before the show begins its open auditions in mid-March, according to Cowell, who noted that since the early auditions are not filmed, "we probably don't need to have them by then."
He also confirmed that host Steve Jones would be replaced with two hosts. "I always wanted a boy and girl, and I think that's going to happen now," Cowell told reporters. "I think it's going to be a lot more fun." Once again, however, the judges did not name names regarding whom they are considering for the hosting positions.
Cowell and Reid hit on a number of other topics, including the "Factor"/"Voice"/"Idol" sing-off Cowell proposed on Twitter and Cowell's current relationship with Abdul.
Cowell said he felt his proposed sing-off "would be the music Super Bowl" and that he was "disappointed with the reaction back from the other two shows." ("The Voice" judge Adam Levine told "Access Hollywood" he's "not really interested.") Both judges then joked that the real battle may have to play out on the music charts before Cowell added, "Maybe we'll just have to compete in the Grammys moving forward."
Asked if he would ever consider working with Abdul again, Cowell admitted that he and the "Straight Up" singer remain friends and that Abdul has been "incredibly gracious and respectful" since she was let go from "The X Factor." "I think it actually will happen," he added.
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