When Simon Cowell talked to Vulture in March, he said that he intended to lock down the other two judges who would join him and L.A. Reid on the judging panel for The X Factor in a week or two. A month later — long after The X Factor began filming for its fall premiere — Cowell still doesn’t have contracts signed for the other two judges, but he told Deadline last night who he expects to be joining him when all is said and done: his old American Idol colleague Paula Abdul (who hasn’t even begun negotiations yet), and U.K. singer Cheryl Cole, a virtual unknown in the United States who sits next to Cowell on the British X Factor panel.
With no contemporary U.S. singers on its panel, the proposed X Factor lineup would stand in stark contrast to both Idol and NBC’s upcoming competition The Voice, which are filled with big names — some of whom, Cowell admits, he was pursuing for his own show. After he learned that Jennifer Lopez was meeting with Idol producers to potentially join that show, he immediately ceased to consider her; same with Cee Lo Green, whom Cowell met with but struck from the list when Green said he wanted to join The Voice (added Cowell, “And I already knew at that point that L.A. Reid was pretty much a done deal. So I just didn’t follow it up”; apparently, he’d reached his quota of bald black men in dark shades). As for discussions with Mariah Carey and Fergie, neither proved available. For all his talk of finding big stars to join him on the panel, Cowell is now the sole superstar. Will it work?