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'The X Factor' host update: Stacy Keibler, Mario Lopez, Khloé Kardashian?

Simon Cowell doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice.

The X Factor chief is taking his own sweet time finding the ideal host for the second season of the Fox version of his hit show. Unlike last year, when host-bot Steve Jones handled the show solo, Cowell wants two people for the gig this fall. And instead of having a host on the singing competition from the very start, the audition rounds (which are already being shot) will be host-free. “I want to work with a boy and girl and I definitely think this is a role for two people,” Cowell recently told reporters. “[We] have narrowed it down to 5 people.”

Some names we’re hearing are under consideration: BET personality Rocsi Diaz, actor and America’s Best Dance Crew host Mario Lopez and actress/model Stacy Keibler. Add to that some names E! Online is hearing: Khloé Kardashian, Kelly Osbourne, BET’s 106 & Park host Terrence J, sportscaster Erin Andrews and radio personality Mike Catherwood (more names below).

Sources emphasize that prospective hosts are still being interviewed and actual testing for the gig is not expected for several more weeks. “They want to make sure the duo has chemistry,” one insider said. READ FULL STORY

Britney Spears: 8 blunt reactions to 'X Factor' contestants -- EXCLUSIVE

So after three cities on The X Factor‘s nationwide audition tour, how is Britney Spears doing as a judge of eager singing talent?

Sources say the pop princess was a bit shy at first, but has since become downright “blunt” in her assessment of contestants. “Everyone was kinda shocked at how tough she was and how she wasn’t scared to say it straight,” a source says from the set.

So far Spears has tended to prefer “exciting” contestants who are visually appealing and charismatic performers rather than those who simply possess a fine voice. “She knows it takes more than having a good singing voice and that you have to be entertaining and have that ‘wow’ factor,” the source says. “She can really tell the difference between a good singer and a great performer.”

Spears’ favorite rejection? “Too boring.”

The new judge also isn’t swayed by heartfelt appeals. “The judges always ask [contestants] a few questions before they sing and Britney makes it clear that she isn’t interested in sob stories or people who try to get a sympathy vote,” the source says. “She’s always compassionate and understanding but she is always totally focused on their performance and talent.”

Here are some of Spears’ reactions to contestants from The X Factor set: READ FULL STORY

TV's top time-period battles this fall

With the fall TV schedule now complete (below), we get to step back and take a look at the hellish battleground that broadcast hath wrought. There’s some very tough-to-predict match-ups this fall:*

Tim Allen vs. Whitney Cummings (Fridays, 8-9): “No, my show’s lamer!” ABC and NBC have their low-expectations comedies airing on Fridays this fall, and they might run head-to-head depending on when NBC launches (ABC’s comedies premiere in November). NBC has Whitney and Community and ABC has Last Man Standing and new comedy Malibu Country. (Community fans, if your ass beat by Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin, we have no words for you). At least 9 p.m. shows Shark Tank and Grimm will have half-way decent lead-ins for once. Our prediction: Edge goes to ABC.

Britney Spears vs. Christina ‪Aguilera‬: OK, so one this is kind of a cheat. The Voice and X Factor won’t air on the same nights, let along in the same time period. But if you think their lack of head-to-head scheduling will matter to the media, you deserve to be hit, baby, one more time. Everybody will obsess over how these two compare. NBC’s The Voice has the wind at its back, averaging 6.2 in the adult demo this season compared to X Factor‘s 4.4. We all want to see how Spears handles the reality show spotlight, but many wonder if she can pull off being entertaining and analytical. Mark Burnett cast The Voice with big names who are charismatic and have the cojones to criticize a singer. Simon Cowell seems to like big names — who are just big names. Prediction: You can’t hold down Xtina. READ FULL STORY

Report: Britney Spears signs on to 'X Factor'

After months of speculation, pop star Britney Spears has reportedly signed on as a judge for the second season of The X Factor, according to E! Online.

Rumors have swirled about the singer joining the Fox singing competition, but today E! reports that Spears will be paid $15 million to join Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid on the judging panel for the show’s next season, set to premiere in early fall.


Britney Spears near deal to judge 'X Factor'

It’s true: Pop singer and tabloid fixture Britney Spears is near a deal to judge Fox’s X Factor.

Sources confirm the singer is in final-stage negotiations with Fox and X Factor producers to join the series this fall. Spears has reportedly haggled a $15 million payout for the gig (slightly more than Jennifer Lopez snagged for American Idol).

If the deal closes, Spears could be an ideal choice to boost the music competition’s ratings: She has both credible music industry experience and a chaotic personality that’s lent itself to fun headlines over the years. That’s the type of celebrity mixture that Factor chief Simon Cowell can work with.

Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey have also been discussed as potential replacements for exiting judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul, though nothing is clear yet on that front.

Read more:
Fox explains ‘X Factor’ shake-up, defends ‘Idol’ ratings — EXCLUSIVE
Madonna and Britney flirt on Twitter: ‘Come on stage and kiss me again’

Official: Fox orders 'Take Me Out' dating show from 'Idol' producers

Fox will debut its new dating show called Take Me Out on June 7 at 8 p.m. ET. The show, from producers behind American Idol and The X Factor, is adapted from a U.K. original. It follows 30 women looking for the man of their dreams in front of a studio audience. (No pressure!) In four rounds, the ladies meet a slew of suitors and can choose to keep a light on, signifying their spark for the guy is still there, or turn it off when the attraction fizzles. News of the deal was first reported by

After several rounds, the bachelor with the most women still interested in him gets to turn the tables, asking two women one make-or-break question. The winning woman immediately joins her suitor for a romantic getaway while the remaining 29 ladies stick around for another week and another chance at love. No host has been announced.

Read more:
Fox plans dating game show from ‘Idol’ team — EXCLUSIVE
Oprah Winfrey on OWN: ‘Had I known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else’
‘Bones’ returns tonight: What to expect when Brennan’s expecting

LeAnn Rimes interested in 'X Factor' judges post -- EXCLUSIVE

UPDATED: The latest name thrown in the ring for an X Factor judges spot: Singer LeAnn Rimes.

Sources say Rimes is interested in joining the Fox reality hit, with one source adding that she’s met with Factor co-producer FremantleMedia North America about the gig.

X Factor chief Simon Cowell is seeking to fill the judges panel spots vacated by Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger before the second season starts production later this year. Sources say he’ll most likely hire two female talents to join himself and music producer L.A. Reid for a gender-balanced panel.

Cowell has not made firm offers for the posts, while the list of candidates continue to shift and official outlets continue to decline comment. But Rimes could make sense on a few levels for X Factor. First, she would add country music expertise, like Blake Shelton provides for NBC’s The Voice. That could also boost the show’s ratings since country music award shows have been one of the few TV genres to have successfully grown their audience in recent years. Rimes also knows what it’s like to compete in a TV talent competition since she first gained national attention when she was eight years old by becoming a finalist on Star Search in 1991. Plus, Rimes’ personal life, marriage to Eddie Cibrian, and weight issues — while polarizing — have also drawn plenty of headlines, which would spur press coverage of the show. READ FULL STORY

'X-Factor' alum Rachel Crow nabs TV deal with Nickelodeon

Eliminated from the X-Factor too soon? Who cares!

Rachel Crow is the latest to prove that a reality show ouster doesn’t spell disaster for the rest of your career. (Ask Jennifer Hudson for further deets.) The 14-year-old has scored a talent deal with Nickelodeon that will put into motion the development of a comedy series starring Crow, who also signed with Columbia Records. “It’s such an honor to be signed to Columbia Records,” said Crow, in a statement. “To think that I am signed to the same label as my idols is a dream come true. I can’t wait to get in the studio and start making music.” Added Crow, “And I am so excited to now be a part of the Nickelodeon family. I grew up watching Nick, and I’m a huge fan.”

Crow, whose emotional elimination from the X-Factor last year left former judge Nicole Scherzinger in tears, is also slated to appear on a recurring basis on Nick’s new comedy Fred: The Show, playing Starr, a “confident but awkward teenager,” according to a Nickelodeon release.

Read more:
The year in reality TV meltdowns
‘The X Factor’ judges talk last night’s emotional elimination: ‘I genuinely know that Nicole didn’t do this to be mean’
The most horrifying but hypnotic reality TV eliminations (that you’re about to watch again!)

Janet Jackson considering 'X Factor' gig?

Less than a week after X Factor creator/judge Simon Cowell admitted he had considered Whitney Houston for the show prior to her death, another diva has entered the fray. Reports have emerged that Janet Jackson may be taking one of the seats Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger vacated earlier this year. Jackson has neither issued a confirmation nor denial yet, but she is scheduled to appear on Monday’s episode of Anderson and, from the looks of a preview, doesn’t seem closed off to the possibility.

According to People, CNN, and Billboard, when host Anderson Cooper broached the subject, Jackson responded obliquely, “No, I am not [currently a judge on The X Factor], but that’s all I really think I should say.” Cooper had but one word: “Intriguing.” Sources close to the singer have told EW that Jackson would like to join the show as a judge, though they cannot confirm whether there is a deal in the works or currently in place.

Below, try to deconstruct Jackson’s coy giggle in the preview for Monday’s episode of Anderson. READ FULL STORY

Simon Cowell suggests Super Bowl for 'X Factor,' 'Idol,' and 'The Voice'

We’re not sure which would make a better television special: a supernova competition between winners of The X Factor, American Idol, and The Voice, or a cage match between über-producers Simon Cowell and Nigel Lythgoe.

On Thursday, the two men engaged in a brief Twitter exchange that suggests a friendly rivalry could make for great TV if it ever found its way into broadcast. First, this from X Factor’s Cowell: “Maybe the winner of @TheXFactorUSA this yr should compete with winner of The Voice & Idol in a super final. Just a thought. I’d be up for it.”

Lythgoe then replied via @dizzyfeet: “@simoncowell suggests the IDOL winner should take on the voice and x-factor winners. The problem is the Idol winner will be a star by then.” Oh, snap! READ FULL STORY

'The X Factor' announces season 2 audition dates, now allows contestants with previous contracts

Fox announced today that auditions for season 2 of The X Factor will begin online March 1, with open-call auditions kicking off in Kansas City on March 14. The network also established a looser set of rules for the show’s sophomore edition, which will once again feature contestants competing for a $5 million recording contract. While the no-upper-age-limit policy stands, the bottom end of the age limit has been lowered to 12 years old after the success of big-voiced season 1 fan favorite Rachel Crow, 13. Also, artists with pre-existing management contracts (which is not to say a recording deal) are now eligible to compete. READ FULL STORY

'X-Factor' rapper Astro's appearance on 'Person of Interest' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

John P. Filo/CBS

It’s safe to say that most musicians on reality show competitions don’t hope to get eliminated during their season. But after seeing how things are going for nixed 15-year-old  X Factor contestant Astro, some may just change their outlook. In addition to his recent deal with Epic Records, Astro (real name Brian Bradley) is also making his way into the acting world: The rising star is appearing on tonight’s brand-new episode of Person of Interest. Check out EW’s exclusive clip, in which Astro plays a young man seeking justice for his murdered brother, who asks John Reese (Jim Caviezel) for help in his quest. Watch the two match wits here: READ FULL STORY

Fox explains 'X Factor' shake-up, defends 'Idol' ratings -- EXCLUSIVE

The changes to Fox’s singing competition shows have only just begun.

After weeks of dramatic headlines about American Idol‘s slipping ratings and The X Factor‘s talent departures, Fox’s president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell spoke to EW about the challenges faced by Idol and Factor — and his strategy for remaining on top. Given their large number of hours and consistent ability to win time periods, one could argue that Idol and Factor are the No. 1 network’s most important shows. So what does it mean when the bulk of the Factor cast abruptly gets pink-slipped and Idol has CBS’ Big Bang Theory nipping at its heels on Thursday nights?

With Factor, the sudden exodus of host Steve Jones, judge Nicole ‪Scherzinger‬ and executive producer Simon Cowell’s longtime TV-spouse Paula Abdul may have stunned observers (L.A. Reid will return). Yet the move was somewhat less surprising to followers of the U.K. version, which sheds judges every few seasons. In a genre where tough-love auditions are the heart of the format, Darnell described being a star on Factor‘s debut as not entirely dissimilar to being a contestant.

“Season 1 was basically an audition act,” said Darnell late last week. “Simon got one big new star out of it — L.A. Reid, and that was great casting. There’s going to be a natural reassessment.” READ FULL STORY


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