Simon Cowell plans to pull out all the stops when he brings X Factor to the US in fall 2011, he tells Deadline London in an exclusive interview.
Simon says the show will have “zero rules” and that contrary to rumors, he hasn’t booked anyone as host or for the judges’ panel yet. He will keep those decisions to the very last minute, he says. Also, Simon claims P. Diddy was never “in the mix.”
Simon doesn’t criticize American Idol, but he does brag, once again, that he tagged Carrie Underwood early in Season 4 to win that year’s competition. Read an excerpt below:
Cowell: Zero rules. Because I can’t bear rules. For instance, I’ve never liked the idea you have to be a certain age to be a pop star. I like the idea that anybody can enter, anybody can compete. And obviously the fact that groups can compete as well as individuals. They haven’t had that on American TV before. I thought long and hard about whether to bring the show over to America or not. The show’s done so well all over the world, and I think to myself ‘Is this room for one more show?’ What’s never happened in America before is a big talent show that runs up to Christmastime. The US show will run from September to December next year. We’re putting a lot of resources behind it. But the main thing is that we’re going to America because there’s a lot of talent in America and there’s a lot of people over the age of 30 who want to get to these shows as well. It should be a 14-year-old competing against a 50-year-old competing against the next ‘N Sync. That to me is an interesting show because it’s got a variety of contestants. And we are going to scour the whole country to make sure that the whole of America is aware of the show and is given the chance to audition in as many different places as possible.
DL: How much is the U.S. version going to cost to make?
Cowell: Each UK programme costs around $2.4 million to produce each week. When we spoke to Fox we needed their assurance they were going to back it financially. All the money goes on screen. It’s not about paying for celebrities; it’s about money going on screen so that it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before on TV. Fox gave me its assurance that’s it’s backing the show all the way. We’re building a studio in Hollywood that’s going to seat 2, 500 people. It’s going to look huge. It’s three times the size of the UK X Factor stage show.
DL: There’s been a lot of press speculation that you’ve already decided that Brit pop star Cheryl Cole, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and even the UK’presenter Dermot O’Leary are definitely coming over to the U.S. version. What’s the truth?
Cowell: Genuinely, nobody has been booked for the show. The only person that’s been booked is me. We’re trying to keep it as open as possible. People approach me to be on it all the time. It’s not about booking well-known people it’s putting together a panel that hopefully Americans will relate to and like. There will be some surprises, genuinely some surprises.