With the second season of “The X Factor” set to premiere over two nights (Wed. Sept. 12, 8:00 p.m. and Thurs. Sept. 13, 8:00 p.m.), fans may find themselves conflicted. Over on NBC, “The Voice” will be airing its third day of blind auditions on Wednesday — and Simon Cowell isn’t happy about it. “They don’t want people to see this first episode,” he said in a conference call with journalists and fellow judge Demi Lovato. “It’s mean-spirited, and I hope and pray it backfires on them. I am pissed off about it.” Cowell and Lovato promised that those who do choose “The X Factor” over the competition will be in for some fun thanks to a “quite mean” Britney Spears, lots of bickering and a backstage pass to the audition process. Cowell, of course, had some strong opinions about, well, just about everything.
Lovato and Cowell both had plenty to say about NBC’s scheduling decision, with Cowell grumbling that the network had violated “a gentleman’s agreement.” Still, he thinks that regardless of the night it airs, “I think three nights in a row is too much.”
Lovato added, “I think the situation is a little unfair and I don’t know why they would do that.”
While “The Voice” producer Mark Burnett has played dumb about the scheduling conflict, Cowell isn’t buying it. “Oh, give me a break,” he sighed. “Like I don’t know when my show is going out next week. They don’t want you to watch [“The X Factor”].”
Despite Lovato’s presence on the call, Spears’ addition to the show was a much stronger hot topic. When it was mentioned that Christina Aguilera (“The Voice”) has said she doesn’t think much of Spears’ judging abilities, Cowell snapped, “Tell her to watch the show. She might learn something.”
Of her fellow judge, Lovato gushed, “The world hasn’t gotten a chance to see her personality over the last couple years. This is a chance to see the light inside of her shine,” adding that Spears is “funny, witty and quirky.”
Cowell said, “I think Britney is a fascinating person. She’s very unpredictable… you never know what’s going to happen. She’s surprisingly quite mean. She can’t say no quick enough on this show. I’ve [come] to like her a lot.” Of Lovato, he joked, “I have a habit of working with annoying people… Demi is that in spades, in bucket loads. When I saw Demi a couple of years ago I thought she’d be interesting to work with, her coming through Disney, being sort of a rebel… People like that are always going to be what I call lippy. I think because the contestants are young it’s important we have someone close to that age group. You only argue people when you’re comfortable with them.”
But of both of his replacements for Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger, Cowell said, “It’s like having two race horses that are very talented but difficult to control. No control over these two whatsoever. Many, many times we disagree, but that makes… every day interesting. The effect they had on the audience when they walked in was just staggering.”
Of course, the changes to the judges’ table aren’t the only ones we’ll see, according to Cowell. “It’s difficult to describe on the telephone,” he admitted. “Even when I watched the show, there was tons of stuff I wasn’t aware of happening backstage. You’ll see even more of the audition process. There’s a lot of stuff backstage, way more of how they interact with each other, how they prepare, and there’s an awful lot of bitchiness you don’t normally see. I found it fascinating to watch. I think this is the first time I feel I genuinely know what it’s like to be a contestant on this show.”
Though the premiere is coming up fast, Cowell says a decision still hasn’t been made regarding hosts for the show. “My gut feeling is we’ll go with a boy and a girl who don’t have hosting experience.” One thing Cowell is more sure about is that it will be a duo. “That will make it more interesting. There’s so much talking on these shows, 11 or 12 minutes. It’s too boring, as Ryan [Seacrest] demonstrated, for one person to say everything. You’ve got to mix it up a little bit… I kind of now what we’re looking for, but that’s why we screen tested people.” Cowell notes that the audition episodes don’t have a host, so there’s no rush, but promised that he thinks “we’re going to make a decision in the next seven days.”
There is one last change Cowell would like, but no word on whether we’ll get it. “I want to see a Demi/Britney duet,” he said. The usually bubbly Lovato had no comment.