Just call them Simon's Angels.
At the Television Critics Association fall previews Thursday for Fox'sThe X Factor, Simon Cowell basked in the glory of the revamped judging panel that surrounds him with three strong women: returning judge Demi Lovato and recent additions Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio. "It's a girl's world in the music business ... we thought the panel should reflect it," he said.
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Last season, Lovato's addition to the panel certainly created unforeseen chemistry, much like the sniping, good-natured rivalry between siblings. He would call her a "brat," while she twitted him for his limited fashion sense and being old. "I was just sticking up for my country," Lovato said. "You don't tell an American what they're doing wrong. Also, I felt like being 19 last year, I had a naive sense of confidence and wasn't intimidated by him as people normally would be."
Rowland and Rubio will follow their younger colleague's lead in handling Cowell. "This year, I'm not the only one that does that," Lovato said. "He's up against three women who will do the same thing. The banter between me and Simon will be times three." Cowell isn't bothered, and in fact, seems to relish this treatment. When asked if he would consider adding another guy to the mix, he replied, "No. Bored of them."
One unexpected benefit of having take-charge women around you? They can defend you. When one reporter attempted to have Cowell comment on his recent personal dramas, Lovato interrupted and said, "I don't think you have to agree to answer." Cowell added that he's keeping the topic private for the time being.
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Beyond the new judging panel, Cowell is confident in X Factor's other changes for its upcoming third season. The grand prize is $1 million versus the original $5 million, which he said was a "more reasonable figure" because "we wanted artists who wanted to be artists."
Even though X Factor's ratings don't even touch the (declining) numbers of big sister program American Idol, Cowell doesn't forsee X Factor getting canceled soon or returning to Idol. "I can't imagine either scenario," he said. "I was told this advice: Know when to leave the fair. It was the right time. This is a new type of show and you've got to build trust. If you make great TV shows, people will watch them. I think this will be the best show we've made so far."
The X Factor premieres on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 8/7c on Fox.