With X Factor still proving a hit for ITV the time is approaching for Simon Cowell’s anticipated American version of the show. This is the show that has taken him away from his British TV work on Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor. It’s the show he left his lucrative job on ratings giant American Idol for and it’s the show he’s hoping won’t go the way of recent failure Red or Black.
There have been several changes since the auditions began earlier in the year with the highly publicized dismissal of Cheryl Cole and the hiring of “Pussycat Doll” Nicole Scherzinger who had originally been signed up to co-host the series with Welsh presenter Steve Jones. The other judges on the panel are Music Mogul L.A Reid and oddly Cowell’s old Idol sparing partner and “straight up” singer Paula Abdul.
There are some other changes when compared to the UK original most obviously the huge prize fund that will see the winner pocket a five million dollar cheque which is a first in reality TV. Also the age range which in the UK is 16 has been lowered to any child who is out of nappies and has the ability to hold a microphone without falling over. This lowered age range may seem a good thing on face value but when you watch the eight minute extravagant promo that aired for the first time on American TV this week you it may dawn on you (as it did me) that this just means more sob stories and more precocious kids trying to belt out ballads.
Cowell does have a few challenges on his hands with the X Factor, the newly refreshed American Idol proved a massive hit with viewers who were agreeing that the show needed a shakeup and now that Idol appears not to have been dented by his departure Cowell may find that viewers decide they don’t need another singing competition. American TV is currently littered with singing competitions. NBC had a surprise hit on their hands with “The Voice” (which will air on BBC1 soon) and ABC has a Friday night Karaoke show that isn’t exactly setting Friday nights alight but has enough people watching to prevent ABC reaching for Extreme Makeover repeats and that’s not even delving into many cable channels that have their own ragged versions of the format.
There’s also the worry that American viewers won’t realize that the X Factor’s strength is the judging rivalry and the different categories that allows for more varity than its counterparts.Fox appear to have every confidence in the show’s success and are promoting it at every possible opportunity.
If anything is going to draw an audience it’s the live auditions. The auditions with the audience give the show a more anything could happen feel and make American Idol’s performance in the judging room look tiered and out dated.
The series begins with a two night premiere on Wednesday 21 September and will be shown on ITV2. Despite the overdose of talent shows that is bombarding American television I am sure the X Factor will be the hit Cowell hopes for. If they’re anything like me they’ll tune in for the auditions and still be watching at Christmas!
The X Factor USA will kick off on ITV2 with a two-hour double bill on Thursday, September 22 and Friday, September 23.
Watch the Fox Promo below to get a taste of the Series