X marks the spot

Simon Cowell is back out there. The former American Idol judge is finally bringing his British hit, The X Factor, to the U.S. Start those voice lessons: The prize is hefty one: a $5 million record deal with Cowell’s production company Syco and Sony Music. We caught up with the 51-year-old media mogul on a recent conference call:

It seems like everything you touch turns to gold. What helps you spot talent?

First of all, I put my trust in the audience, I trust my gut feeling, I work with talented people, and essentially what I try to do now – because I have a choice – is I make shows I’d like to watch.

Would you consider Paula Abdul as one of the judges? 

Well, I’m a massive fan of Paula. It’s quite unusual – when you work with somebody for as long as I did with Paula, we were friends on the show for I’d say 80 percent of the time, and then interestingly, afterwards we’ve been in regular contact. We’re talking to a number of people, and I expect to make an announcement I would say within three to four weeks.

Is it important to have a British presence?

I’ve never thought about whether it should be British or American. On this show, when you reach the live part, each judge is going to mentor three finalists each, and that means you have to work with them up to five or six days a week. I need to find someone who’s willing to make that commitment. It also helps that they’re cute.


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