Simon Cowell believes 'X Factor' can top 'Idol'


Can Simon Cowell’s The X Factor be the show that finally overthrows American Idol as the top-rated series on TV?

Cowell thinks so. Asked by a critic at Fox’s press tour in Beverly Hills if the U.S. version of the Brit hit can draw bigger numbers than his previous show, Cowell replied, “If I didn’t think we could — and it’s not just Idol; it’s any show — you don’t enter something for the silver medal. You do it because you want to be number one. And for the next few months, we’re going to shove everything at this to try and make it the best show on TV.”

Cowell made the remarks while appearing via satellite during an occasionally bizarre panel with his fellow Factor judges and producers. Executives announced Factor will have a special two-and-a-half-hour episode this fall — a rarity on Fox, which only programs to 10 p.m. — and said it would be a more performance-oriented show than Idol. “I wouldn’t have made the show unless I thought it would’ve been different,” Cowell said. “We see this as a game changer.”

That said, Cowell believe the shows can peacefully co-exist. “I see it the same way as movies,” he said. “In one year you can have 10 great movies. The idea that there was only ever going to be one singing competition in America is crazy. Sure enough, [NBC’s] The Voice came along and did a good job.”

The success of The Voice, said Cowell, just meant “you have to make the show better. The people who benefit from this is the audience.”

Critics asked Cowell about the confusion and headlines over the judging panel, which at one point had Cheryl Cole signed onto the show, then switched to Nicole Scherzinger.

“There was a few of us who made the decision, that Cheryl would be more comfortable in the UK show,” he said. “I offered her the job in the UK back. If it was a question of not getting along with Paula [Abdul], I wouldn’t be on the show. I thought Cheryl returning back to the UK would have been a big headline and good for the show over there and good for her. I probably got this wrong and I admit it.”

The acerbic Brit added it was true he wanted Mariah Carey as a judge, but she made the “selfish decision” to become pregnant.

Asked if having younger contestants than on Idol has prompted him to soften his critiques, Cowell said that dealing with kids who are 14 has been an eye opener. “If I’m being honest with you, it’s the other way around. They are more lippy than any other contestants. I was quite traumatized after the auditions.”

Then things got a little weird. When discussing the show’s $5 million prize, Cowell at one point asked judge L.A. Reid, “Can I interrupt?” Reid replied, “No, but if you insist.”

Later Scherzinger — who answered with such emotive speech she made Abdul look stern and businesslike by comparison — was talking about NBC’s Sing Off, describing the show as “two different animals and two different beasts” when Abdul started laughing, seemingly uncontrollably. Simon said he needed “a translator,” made a throat-cutting gesture and his satellite feed was cut off. Later he returned as if nothing had happened. (For more on the whole oddness of this panel, check out Ken Tucker’s take here).

“Simon can’t get rid of me,”  Scherzinger said. “I love our big dysfunctional family.”

Read more:
‘The X Factor’ schedule: Boot camp, judges homes, live show dates
‘The X Factor’ exclusive first look art
First X Factor judges photo and preview: Simon Cowell mocks American Idol

Comments (26 total) Add your comment
  • LOL

    God, let’s hope so. AI was hugely fun for its first 3 or four seasons and then got… DULL. It wouldn’t kill anyone if you changed up the formula or added things, Simon. Please keep that in mind when XF is on the air.

    • Greg

      Swagger Jagger baby!

    • Jason

      I think Idol was best in seasons five, seven and eight. But with Cowell X-factor will be heads above Idol. I wish they were going head to head.

  • L

    Can’t wait for XF :) I love the British version. You’ll see its so different from idol.

  • Kim

    Cheryl Cole is a convicted racist thug. She attacked a black woman and called her a nig*er. I Hate her.

    • MC

      She’s not on the show anymore.

      • Greg

        Cheryl Lloyd rocks my socks.

    • jerry

      She wasn’t convicted of using racial language, she was convicted of assault, get your facts right,

    • D-Money

      You have to put people in their place sometimes.

    • Anna

      you’re an idiot

    • Flip

      She is? Now I don’t feel bad about her not being on the show anymore.

    • Dave

      No she isnt. She got into a fight was convicted of assualt but she was cleared of racism. It was a drunken mistake when she was 19 she has never did anything wrong since then, so i think people should move on and forgive her.

      • Steph

        I feel bad for Cheryl in regards to being called racist as the girl she had the fight with just happened to be black and now people who dislike her go around calling her racist, which is rediculous seeing as she married Ashley Cole a black soccer player.

    • rerun

      I’m now a Cheryl Cole fan.

    • Gigity

      Good. The bathroom attendant she fought hurled racial slurs at her. She deserved the righteous beatdown that she got. Love Cheryl. White power.

      • Mo Money Mo Problems

        The bathroom attendant should thank Cheryl, it was for her own good.

      • They took our Jobs!

        Derka derb!!

  • Flip

    I haven’t watched Idol since 2004, but I am very excited for X Factor. Let’s face it, I only watched Idol for Simon and Paula anyway.

  • Templar

    Cowell is a prat. Would not watch him ever again.

  • Samantha

    Yeah some how I doubt it…. And enough with these singing shows. American Idol is enough and I’m done with it as well. Last year was it for me. I’m tired of reality shows.

  • Charlie Harper’s Ghost

    You won’t be missed…

  • Matt

    Although I will watch the show, for some reason, I would like it to be a huge flop. I think its gonna have huge publicity and buzz.. lot of manufactured drama and controversy…Media like the TV shows and EW etc will cover it and it will get better ratings than the voice although the voice will prob be a better show. This just seems like Ai with backup dancers and bigger sets…and i don’t like the fact that we have half the panel of old idol judges which will just make it seem like idol 2.0…i think they’ll have a young winner or a group winner (which they’ll put together)..but there are too many singing shows – idol, voice, agt often has a singing top 1 or 2; and now this…plus all the other ones on bravo, cmt etc….Only a handful of contestants get big success and often they re not even the winners…I only wish the best for the winner – imagine a 12 year old kid winning 5 million dollars and a record deal. The prize is amazing – considering Javier won 100K not he Voice

  • PN

    I’ve noticed that the auditions are in a stadium arena setting, not these cheesy awful audition shows so common with Idol. You wish that Idol would attempt this. I think that this is Simon’s show and something he wouldn’t have done on Idol. I spell a hit but I think we’re going to suffer from talent competition exhaustion after Idol , The Voice, America’s Got Talent and others before X-Factor’s September premiere.

  • Kimmie

    X Factor has Simon, Idol does not, so it’s a no brainer as to which one will prevail. Simon’s entertaining way of keeping it real is what made Idol a hit in the first place, so X Factor has the winning edge. It’s going to be amazing, and I can’t wait another minute for it.

  • jill

    @Greg. That reminds me of a country western song: “The flame in my heart lit a fire in my soul so hot, it burned a hole in my sock!” LOL

    Simon & Paula forever.

  • viviennewestwood

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