Simon Cowell is going to be outnumbered on The X Factor this fall, but somehow we suspect he won’t mind.
Fox has confirmed our Friday near-deal exclusive report that Destiny’s Child founding member Kelly Rowland and Latin singer Paulina Rubio will be the new Factor judges for season three. They’ll join executive producer-judge Cowell and his fellow lone surviving panelist from last season, pop singer Demi Lovato.
Yes: It’s Simon and three talented attractive women. The combination is certain to prompt some smirking, but the move makes Factor the first major U.S. broadcast singing competition series to have a female majority on its panel. The ensemble also targets a diverse collection of music fans of varying ages: Lovato (age 20) is a current pop singer, Rowland (32) leans toward R&B, and Rubio (41) sings Latin dance music. And of course Cowell (53) lends his experience as a music producer, reality TV icon and talent spotter.
“It’s taken more than a decade but I’m delighted to finally be on a panel with three girls (I think!),” said Cowell in a statement. “Paulina and Kelly both have great taste and massive experience in the music industry and together with Demi, this is going to be a fun panel. It just feels like the time to do something different.”
Another plus: The new hires have prior experience judging a major music competition series (unlike, say, ex-X Factor judge Britney Spears, or American Idol‘s Nicki Minaj or Mariah Carey). Rowland was a judge on the UK version of X Factor, while Rubio judged the Mexican version of The Voice.
So what the new Factor panel arguably lacks in headline-generating celebrities, it could gain in having judges with experience doing live performance critiques. After all, we’ve seen that enormous star wattage on talent shows does not necessarily equal a ratings boost.
The deals are being signed Monday afternoon in a nick of time as X Factor starts production on season three tomorrow (Rowland has signed; Rubio will sign within the hour). Now Fox will turn its attention to filling out the judges panel of American Idol. In recent weeks, panelists Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj have said they won’t be back, Keith Urban says he’d like to return, and Mariah Carey has ducked the press. NBC’s rival The Voice firmed up its judges panel for the next two cycles last week.
Though Cowell may be excited about the new Factor panel, he took a moment this weekend to reminiscence about his former American Idol co-stars. “Randy leaving Idol made me remember that Paula, Randy, me and Ryan had the best time,” Cowell tweeted. “I miss them.”
The X Factor returns this fall. See Fox’s schedule here.
More quotes from the press release:
Rowland: “I am very excited to be reuniting with Simon Cowell and The X Factor family. It feels great to be able to take this journey here at home in the states!”
Rubio: “I love The X Factor! I can’t wait to find the next big music star here in America. I’m so thrilled to be part of the show as a judge. Simon, be careful what you wish for, let’s see if you are ready to handle me, empieza la fiesta, amigo!”
Fox reality chief Mike Darnell: “We are thrilled that Kelly and Paulina are joining Demi on the panel this season, in what is sure to be a triple threat of talented and successful women against Simon week-to-week. This is an incredible panel of judges and we can’t wait for fans to see what’s in store for season three.”