The X Factor judges held auditions in Miami on June 14, and already the quartet of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Antonio "L.A." Reid and Nicole Scherzinger seems to be working like a well-oiled machine. Abdul says Cowell has mellowed a bit on the new show. "He's gotten softer, but don't tell him I said that," she told TV Guide Magazine. (In fact, when the judges introduced themselves at the beginning of the auditions, Abdul sat on Cowell's lap and said, "I'm in love with Simon.")
But Cowell showed few signs of being a softie as contestants faced him at the BankUnited Center. It's becoming apparent that music producer Reid joins Cowell as the harsh critics, while Scherzinger and Abdul are the kinder, gentler judges. Cowell and Reid were especially blunt to a young guy whose dream is to appear on Glee; they also likened one duo to karaoke singers.
Cowell also playfully poked fun at Scherzinger, who has easily stepped into the judge's chair vacated by Cheryl Cole. During the performance of a female quartet, the judges were trying to figure out who was the star of the foursome. Cowell explained that there has to be a star, and pointed to Scherzinger and her role in The Pussycat Dolls as an example.
"There has to be someone greedy in the group," he said. "I wasn't greedy," Scherzinger responded. "It wasn't about that." Then Abdul broke in and mended fences: "She stole the limelight and that's why she's here on this panel."
Scherzinger said she hasn't yet found the next generation of superstars. "I'm still looking for someone who I can say, 'I want to buy your album, I want to see you on tour.' It's about waking up in the morning and saying, 'You know what, I need to tell myself I'm an artist and I have it.' It's about attitude... and trust."
Meanwhile Cowell told TV Guide Magazine that The X Factor, which premieres on Fox this fall, bears no resemblance to American Idol, of which he has only watched one episode since he left. "They are 100 percent separate," he said. "They are vastly different shows. What worked there doesn't work here. We want to find the next Rihanna, the next Justin Bieber. The stakes are much higher." When asked whether he thinks Idol has morphed into a nicer version since he left, he said, "Definitely. They're trying to burn the memory of Simon."