The X Factor

U.S. audiences are more vocal — and more drunk! — says Simon Cowell. At least, that's been his experience filming the American version of his British hit The X Factor.

In his new singing competition, the auditions were all shot before a live studio audience. "When they like someone, they let you know. And they certainly let you know when they disagree with you," Cowell said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. In fact, rowdy crowds saved more than one contestant from elimination.

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"We had to — otherwise I may have gotten seriously injured — bring back some contestants we said no to because the audience wanted them [to go] through," Cowell said. "And we did say to them, you're sort of like the fifth judge here."

But his favorite part of about U.S. audiences is that, he suspects, many of them were not sober during the evening tapings. "You could feel a lot of them were drunk. They were louder. I like that," Cowell said. "Actually, I might do that for the live shows -- just make everybody drink before they come in."

To further hype the singing competition's upcoming premiere — which he has steadily done for a year now — Cowell revealed that Paula Abdul has competition in the "crazy" department from fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger. "Paula can be a bit wacky at times, but Nicole wasn't far behind in a fantastically self-centered way, which she wasn't aware of and I found really amusing," he said.

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"There was a part during the auditions where every city we went to — and again, Nicole wasn't aware of this — she changed her accent! When she was in New York she had this Brooklyn thing going on, and when she went to Dallas she became a Southern belle. She just changes every city you go into."

And, of course, he threw in some fighting words toward his old home, American Idol. If the show should win its first Emmy for reality competition at Sunday's awards show, it would be for its first Cowell-less season. That, he says, he'll take personally. Literally. If it wins, "it's for all the years we did before. So whatever happens, I'm going to claim the victory," he said.

The two-hour X Factor premiere airs Wed., Sept. 21 at 8/7c on Fox.