The subject on everyone’s mind at “The X Factor” panel today wasn’t what changes the show will undergo for its third season, but rather the fact that Simon Cowell is allegedly expecting a baby with Lauren Silverman, the not-yet-divorced wife of the British judge’s friend, New York real estate mogul Andrew Silverman.
“I haven’t read the newspapers, did I miss anything?” Cowell joked with reporters Thursday during Fox’s panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles. Then he added, “Sorry. Unfortunately, I have to keep this private for the moment. It’s just one of those things, but thank you anyway.”
But after the panel, Cowell did add that the reason he couldn’t comment more than he has is because he has to respect a lot of people’s feelings.
“There are a lot of things I will eventually clear up when the time is right,” he said. But I have to be sensitive because there are a lot of people’s feelings involved here.”
As for “The X Factor,” the big news is the $5 million prize has been cut back to $1 million, which will be paid out over two to three years. But if the winning act is someone that Cowell is really excited about, he indicated that he will put more money into marketing and promotion, which could raise the value of the prize to closer to $2 to 3 million.
Another change will be no more visits to contestants homes, which Cowell felt was causing the show to drag. And the middle rounds will change, as well.
“I thought the boot-camp episodes looked too similar to Hollywood Week on ‘American Idol,’ so we have come up with something new that is very interesting,” he said. “I can’t say what it is yet because even the contestants don’t know. At this stage, we have chosen 10 contestants each and we are going to narrow them down to four in each category. But we have devised something new and, I think, it is going to be really good.”
As previously announced, Cowell is being joined on the judges’ panel by Demi Lovato, Paulina Rubio and Kelly Rowland. The only other male will be host Mario Lopez. The choice was made because Cowell and the producers felt it’s a girl’s world in the music business right now and they wanted the panel to reflect that.
“We had to do something different than everybody else,” Cowell says of the three women mentors. “But you never know until the first day. What happened is they really clicked. I think this time we are going to make the show that we really wanted to make. All these producers watch each others’ shows, so they end up looking identical. You need to be so far ahead of what everybody else is doing.”
Also, the four categories of contestants from Season 1 will be reinstated instead of using those from Season 2. So the breakdown will be: girls, guys, over 25 and groups. But the decision as to who mentors each group is made by Executive Producers Rob Wade and Andrew Llinares.
“Hopefully, these guys are very happy about who they are going to work with,” Llinares said. “You can create a moment of drama by giving them someone they would hate working with. But we want to get partnerships that are really going to work. I think we have done that and we are excited about the partnerships this year.”
As for how important it is for “The X Factor” to launch a successful artist, like “Idol” has Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, Cowell says, “No show can survive without it. You are making a promise that you will turn them into a real-life artist. Otherwise, it is a game show.”
“The X Factor” will premiere its third season on September 11 on FOX.