Official: Paula Abdul joins Simon Cowell's 'X Factor'


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It’s official: Paula Abdul will join Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and LA Reid as judges on Fox’s The X Factor.

Abdul just appeared on stage at the first round of judged auditions in Los Angeles. The hire rejoins the two most popular American Idol judges on a new singing competition that will launch this fall.

Despite Cowell and Abdul’s previous on-air chemistry, Abdul wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice for the project. Some critics accused her of being spacy and inattentive on Idol, then she quit the hit show over a salary dispute, and her own competition reality effort, Live to Dance, tanked on CBS earlier this year.

The completed panel also marks a notable departure from the recent strategies adopted by the Idol flagship and NBC’s new rival The Voice. Both shows filled its judges seats with major name singers, from Christina Aguilera to Jennifer Lopez. Whereas Cowell and Abdul are best known at this point for their prior reality TV gig, and Reid and Cole are known hardly at all to American audiences.

The show will also be very Brit heavy, with not only Cowell and Cole from across the pond, but co-host Steve Jones is as well (Jones will co-host along with Pussycat Doll’s singer Nicole Scherzinger).

But as Cowell himself proved, reality shows don’t need stars, they make them — both contestant and judge alike. And having charismatic, sharp-witted talent with entertaining chemistry is more important than name recognition, assuming the X Factor panel doesn’t just come across like a support system for the return of Cowell to primetime.

“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 Simon Cowell in a statement.

“I am excited beyond words to be a part of ‘The X Factor,” added Abdul. “I couldn’t be happier to bring my love for cultivating talent and performance to such a wildly anticipated show,” said Paula Abdul in a statement. “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!”

Asked at Sunday’s auditions about the protracted, down-to-the-wire negotiations to sign her to the show, Abdul told reporters: “You know what? I’m here. And only Simon and I understand what went on. That’s all I can say. It’s fun though. I’m here.”

More to come later today from EW’s Dave Karger who’s at the auditions…

Comments (100 total) Add your comment
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  • Justin

    about time. I was getting so annoyed with the “will she/won’t she?”

    • Rup

      I’m very glad that Paula is back! Will be a breath of fresh air considering she will be sitting next to Cheryl Cole, whose claim to fame was winning “popstars” in England. She was my least favorite mentor on the the British X factor, and I can attribute her wins on the fact that she was given the most talented, and strongest group year after year to mentor. This past season was the only year that her group did not have a singer that was miles beyond the rest of the competition and lo, and behold she did not win. I usually don’t rant about celebrities this way, but I guess it’s because I was really looking forward to the American X-Factor. While I have been in Britain I have become very tired of seeing many many mannnyy talentless “celebrities” in all forms of media, Cheryl Cole being one of them. Snooki has more talent than her. ouch. Harsh? yes. True. unfortunately, yes.

      • SXiPPY

        Please, I love Cheryl, she is very talented granted not the greatest dancer, but she can sing her a$$ off. As a mentor I think she did fine, look what she did for that turd Cher Lloyd- girl can’t sing for anything, but she cultivated her into a star worth watching and now she has one of the most anticipated albums, soon to be released in the U.K. That speaks for Cheryl’s ability in my opinion. While I am happy Paula is back, she is a flake and hasn’t had anything on the music charts since (*crickets*)…what can she offer contestants in terms of singing, artistry and self-promotion? A handful of Vicodin and Prozac?

    • Rush

      American Idol 2

  • schaden

    There goes the credibility I was hoping for.

    • mickey

      I’m not sure I can watch Paula not making any sense again. Ugh!

    • SaraJeanQueen

      I loved Paula on AI. she’s positive and actually knows what she’s talking about – I agreed most often with her.

    • Ade

      American Idol can be credible but it the later stages have become boring without Cowell.

      X Factor USA will be tacky and chaotic like the UK show and probably hugely popular. Cheryl Cole might be a mistake but Cowell is in love with her and so doesn’t care

      • Zakry

        American Idol has been FAR from boring – clearly you haven’t been watching.

    • KikiL

      Totally agree. Paula was the worst thing about Idol. She doesn’t bring any credibility to the table, is annoying and incoherent, and is probably only a better choice than Jessica Simpson, and that isn’t saying much. Honestly, they couldn’t get anyone better? Why, Simon, why???

      • sara

        I’d take Paula over script readers and useless drones J-Lo, Randy and Steven Tyler any day. At least Paula gave a flip.

    • Mel

      Agree. This is just going to be Idol 2.0 with Cheryl Cole. Paula pretty much showed that she wasn’t missed after she left Idol. Putting her on X Factor now is a silly move.

      • c jones

        the show sank in the ratings (at least to a lower level for a #1 hit) after her departure.
        With a new judge line up it still is lower in the ratings than a couple of years back.

        And re the article, Paula had many pop hits in her career. She may be a reality star now but she can sing and dance better than many of the other judges out there (like S. Cowell)

    • bruno

      ugh. really?? abdul? what a disappointment. i’ve been looking forward to x factor and it’s new take on a stale genre, but putting abdul behind the panel is just stepping back. idol 2.0..but with another brit. think i’ll stcik with the voice for the summer tand bow out on x. sad.

  • lucille

    another blow to scripted TV…just now it will happen in the fall and spring.

  • Lisa

    NICE! I love Simon and Paula together!

  • Flip

    I will watch this show now. I’m all about reuniting Simon and Paula! American Idol who?!

    • Pipan

      Flip, you’re a little slow. American Idol is STILL the #1 one show on TV, by far. Has been all these years.

      • sara

        I take it you haven’t been watching idol this season. The show is a walking corpse.

      • bruno

        worst season of idol ever. ever.

      • Zakry

        Hardly the worse season ever, and 20+ million viewers a week disagree with you. You’re opinion is only that. Bruno, same for you.

      • rossman

        sara, pay attention! Flip said “Idol who?” and Pipan said, in response, that Idol has is and has been number 1 for a long time. And he/she is right. Pipan’s comment had NOTHING to do with the quality of the show. So your “walking corpse” comment in pointless. Learn to read sara.

  • Stacey

    I am not sure this work. They are trying to get the buzz back for X Factor which The Voice snatched away due to the high profile judges and more than respectable ratings… Similiar structure minus blind auditions. We’ll see if it works but will Simon and Paula have the same chemistry under the new structure, I am not sure. A very different show. I am not optimistic at how British this show looks to be and Nicole is a host; yeah I am pestimistic this will work once the high ratings for the first episode or two stablize…

    • Rachel

      Totally Agree. The Voice came first, so by the time X factor comes around, he concept of mentorship will be old news. Quite frankly the judges on the Voice are WAY better. Cheryl Cole? Steve Jones? La Reid? I’ll wait to pass judgement on them when I see the show.

      • Nick

        But Rachel, you just DID pass judgement.

    • Zakry

      By the time X Factor premeires, The Voice will be a memory. You all are so short-sighted.

      • Eliah


  • sunsetsnow81

    I am excited for it. Glad they got Paula.

  • Pat

    Uh, get your facts straight EW. American Idol and The Voice do NOT have only singers as judges. AI filled one of its judges seat with a producer: Randy Jackson.(He also played bass for Journey.)


    “The completed panel also marks a notable departure from the recent strategies adopted by the Idol flagship and NBC’s new rival The Voice. Both shows filled its judges seats with major name singers, from Christina Aguilera to Jennifer Lopez.”

    • Mike

      I think one could rationally read that as meaning filling the empty seats (the brand new 4 on “The Voice”, and the other 2 on “American Idol”).

    • John Nguyen

      They said the recent strategy was to fill the judges seats with major name singer…”recent” being the key word. Randy has always been there, so he is not a recent addition. All the new judges are singers.

  • Teya

    Hey at least it wasn’t Jessica Simpson.

    • suechip

      I quoted Jessica Simpson’s famous tuna/chicken line on here FIVE times already and EW deleted all five of them for no good reason. The EW dweeb who keeps doing that should be fired. Lol

      • lodge

        Saying C.O.T.S. on this site is against the law! But you can say “chicken.” And you can say “of.” And you can say “the.” And you can say “sea.” So why can’t you say them all together? Too freakin’ funny. Can you say the word “anal” EW?

      • Rachel

        Ha HA! they let me say the B word? Hilarious, but no PO’d

      • Water Poultry Lover

        Are you allowed to say Chicken of the River?

      • townline

        Or Chicken of the B—–?

      • fire them

        They have deleted my comments before when I never even said anything bad. Some of these moderators are morons. If they don’t like what you say, delete.

      • Ruckus


      • poultry of the h20

        nice job ruckus,,really funny,, lets see how long it stays on here )

      • James Hibberd

        I suspect it’s something weird about our spam filter and not moderation …

  • Debra Champness

    It would be good if they include guest judges on the panel from the UK X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent such as Dannii Minogue, Louis Walsh and Amanda Holden.

    • lodge

      wtf would they do that?! U.S. TV viewers have no idea who they are. Stop drinking, Debra! Hahaha.

      • SaraJeanQueen

        Agree lodge.

      • Zakry

        Yeah, that idea is kinda ridiculous. America is not at all interested in a UK X-Factor reynion. The show does not air here.

    • Buffy Freak

      Yeah because we don’t have enough British judges on TV telling Americans how much they suck…

      • Rachel

        Obviously we need more British people on our Tvs. Its not like 2/3 judges on Americas Got Talent aren’t British, So You think you can dance has Nigel, not to mention Uncle Nigel is the dictator of American Idol. Piers Morgan took over Larry King. FoxNews airs SkyNews (British TV) after Greta Van Sustrens show. Martin Bashir has his own show on MsNBC. PBS now airs BBC… Did I miss anything? Cheers to the Mother Country!

      • Lois

        Hugh Laurie is British. Masterpiece Theater shows British shows. BBC America. Every network went British for the Royal Wedding.
        Cheerio luv.

  • sarah

    Yaay great news, this is going to be such an awesome show.

  • Wee

    Loved Paula on idol. Can’t stand jlo or Randy. Why would they keep Randy and not paula? Lame

    • noahk

      Wake up, Wee. Paula quit American Idol. She wanted a huge raise. They said no. She said goodbye. You must be the only Idol viewer in the country who doesn’t know this.

    • noahk

      And that was THREE seasons ago! Not this season or last season, but the season before that was her last season.

      • Wee

        whatever. I don’t follow idol or Paula news.

    • hcg

      Wee, you’re a weird. First you say you loved Paula on Idol, then you say you don’t follow Idol or Paula news. And if you don’t follow them, then why did you not only read this article, but then post not just one comment, but two?!?

      • Wee

        I meant I don’t follow every single news article about idol and Paula. I watched the show but never really knew why paula got the boot. Geez!

      • skims

        Wee, get your story straight. You said “I don’t follow idol or Paula news.” NOW you say I dont follow “every” article about Paula. Pick a story and stick to it! And Paula DIDN’T get the boot as you put it. Get off the drugs Wee. hahahahaha

  • Simon and Paula’s Love Child

    Do you think they’ll have Simon and Paula sit next to each other? And in seats 1 and 2 (from the right)?

  • Will P

    Who cares? It’s TV… get a life you sad pathetic people!

    • boardwalk

      Obviously, YOU do Will P. That’s why you read the article and then took the time to post a comment. Loser.

  • MWeyer

    And “The Soup” rejoices at the free material they’re about to get.

    • Rachel

      American comedians are gonna love Cheryl Cole’s accent! Can’t wait!!

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