American Idol and America's Got Talent had best be on guard. Auditions for Simon Cowell's new singing competition, The X Factor, kick off March 27 in Los Angeles, paving the way for the Fox series' fall 2011 premiere. While continuing the search for his co-hosts and third judge (to join him and Island Def Jam music producer Antonio "L.A." Reid), the charmer spoke to TV Guide Magazine from across the pond.
TV Guide Magazine: What is your biggest worry about launching this hit U.K. show in America?
Cowell: You just don't know until you start filming whether the contestants are going to be good, interesting and different. It's impossible to predict. I've luckily had more good years than bad when you get that special Carrie Underwood or Susan Boyle moment. My biggest fear is that everybody's hopeless and boring.
TV Guide Magazine: That's up to you judges. What's the hold up in finalizing the panel and hosts?
Cowell: First of all, nobody can agree; secondly, you've got to meet as many people as possible; and thirdly, I'm famous for not making my mind up until the last possible second. You've got to imagine working with these people for the next few months... People you genuinely think you're going to like. We were spoiled for a while on Idol when we had Paula, Randy and Ryan. We genuinely became friends, and you want the same thing to happen again.
TV Guide Magazine: And you know most of us can tell with whom you get along... and with whom you don't.
Cowell: I totally agree. You can tell whether there's a real chemistry, and if you don't like each other or there's tension, you see that bouncing off the screen. I've been in that situation before when you don't quite fit and I want to avoid that happening.
TV Guide Magazine: Is part of Simon Cowell's X factor that he tells it as it is?
Cowell: I think so. There's no point lying to the people. I like things to be unpredictable, controversial and funny. You want people to talk and get excited.
TV Guide Magazine: How long have you known L.A. Reid?
Cowell: I met him approximately fifteen years ago when he'd launched Pink for the first time. He put on a show and got every single person in the room to believe this person was a star. The way he presented her with his passion drew me to him and was a big part of why I chose him to be on the show. A "yes" or "no" from L.A. Reid should really mean something to the contestants.
TV Guide Magazine: What's he like?
Cowell: I remember the first time I went to his office in New York and was impressed by his taste. He has an old fashioned way about him, where he's very polite and charming. The enthusiasm from him when I played music for him really meant something to me at the time.
TV Guide Magazine: Now we just need some female energy.
Cowell: Oh God, yes. The idea is to have a guy and a girl hosting the show, because funny enough I like working on shows with two hosts.
TV Guide Magazine: Of course that Seacrest/Dunkleman pairing wasn't exactly legendary that first season of American Idol.
Cowell: (Laughs) Well, it was entertaining. I've got to tell you, watching the two of them kill each other on stage was all part of the entertainment. I was always a fan of the two of them, and the fact that they were so uncomfortable together was fantastic.
TV Guide Magazine: We're hearing former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger is a near lock for one of those hosts.
Cowell: Yeah, I want her to do it, but we've got to get the deal done and find someone she has chemistry with. But I absolutely adore her. She was fantastic on the U.K. X Factor and I'm hopeful it will happen.
TV Guide Magazine: What is Nicole's X factor?
Cowell: She's gorgeous and ruthlessly ambitious and doesn't arrive with a massive entourage. Everyone adores her.
TV Guide Magazine: The other hot rumor is that former Girls Aloud singer and British X Factor judge Cheryl Cole will fill that third judge's chair, but Fox had concerns about Americans struggling to understand her thick English accent.
Cowell: We may do it like Singin' In the Rain, where we've got an American speaking behind a wall if she gets the gig. Cheryl's not confirmed but is in the mix. Someone else [Cowell declined to specify] came into the fray this week who wasn't there a week ago, so now I've got to meet them.
TV Guide Magazine: During your last season on Idol, you clearly seemed disinterested. Can we expect to see a re-energized Simon when The X Factor debuts in the fall?
Cowell: For sure. I wouldn't have done this if I wasn't in the mood for doing it. The problem with the last year was that because I'd announced I was going, there was just a weird feeling with everyone. Weird energy. If you're getting paid to do a job, you've got to be professional, but to be honest my mind was somewhere else. Right now, though, I feel completely re-energized, enthusiastic and hopeful! We're going to work flat-out to make the best possible show we can.
TV Guide Magazine: Give us one scoop on what we're actually going to see when the shows start airing.
Cowell: I've done this a long time and have learned you never, ever tell your competition what you're going to do in advance, A) because they're going to rip it off, and B) because I haven't got a clue.
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