Tag Archives: X Factor

Kelly Rowland Talks ‘X Factor,’ Says She’ll Always Be Supportive of Simon Cowell

x factor 2013

Rubio, Lovato, Rowland, Cowell

Journalists on hand for last month’s “X Factor” panel during the Television Critics Association press tour saw Simon Cowell’s female posse of judges – Kelly Rowland, Demi Lovato and Paulina Rubio — spring to his defense when questions turned to the scandal involving Cowell fathering a baby by his former best friend’s wife.   Their protectiveness was almost family-like, Rowland agrees.

“I never thought I would say this, but I pretty much think Simon is a cool guy.  I’m just – I don’t know anything in detail, but I’m always going to be supportive of him,” she tells us.  “I mean, we’re friends, so I would tell him if I thought anything else.  Our bond is really interesting because it happened so fast.”

The one-time Destiny’s Child member is even more gung-ho about Demi and Paulina.  “I’m just sure Demi has been here on this earth before.  We probably talk every other day — myself and Demi.  I just adore her, and I knew it as soon as we started talking.  I don’t know if it’s Texas that binds us together, or just the fact we’re two southern girls singing.”  And of the hot Mexican songstress Rubio, she says, “The fact that she has this adorable little boy is so wonderful.  He’s so cute.  We had the chance to all hang out.  She brings him sometimes.  She’s a nice balance for the rest of us.  Everybody’s personalities fit.  We’re just having fun, that’s all we’re doing.”

Rowland has been flying back and forth between “X Factor” auditions and her own performing dates, juggling her schedule and “just glad it’s all working out.”  She doesn’t have the Summer Jam 2013 tour to think about, though.  A couple of weeks after Chris Brown dropped out of the tour at the eleventh hour, it was canceled last week amid reports of slow ticket sales.

“You know what, as far as that’s concerned, I’d rather not speak on it because that all didn’t end well and I’m just going to be very professional and not talk about it,” says Rowland.  “I definitely wanted to do it, but between everybody not having everything together, it didn’t work out for my benefit and my team’s.  And it didn’t happen.”

kelly rowland closeBut she has plenty on her plate.  Not only is there “X Factor,” there’s also a follow-up to her 2011 collaboration with trainer Jeanette Jenkins, “Hollywood Trainer: Sexy Abs with Kelly Rowland.”  The new DVD, called ”Sexy Abs: Cardio Sculpt,” is due in October.

“Jeanette choreographed this great, great workout — I’m tired when I’m finished, but it’s one of the best things I’ve done since I started working out with her,” Rowland declares.  But it’s not just her abs; many envy Rowland’s toned and defined arms.

“I think anyone can have – I call them Michelle Obama arms.  She’s actually my inspiration,” says the singer with a laugh.

In fact, Rowland is out in L.A. having meetings on a number of work prospects – including more acting roles.  She would love more film and TV opportunities.  “X Factor” will certainly be getting her out in front of the public eye when the show has its two-night, three-hour season premiere Sept. 11 and 12.

Having already served as a judge for the British version of “X Factor,” Rowland is already well acquainted with what she considers the most difficult part of the judging job:  having to let favorite aspiring talents go.

“That was the hardest, hardest thing.  The hardest moment for me – it was over in the U.K.  I had the girls’ category and I had to pick between two of my girls and they were both so incredible.  I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh, my God.  I don’t want to make this decision.’   You don’t want to have to choose between your contestants, but sometimes you have to,” she notes.  “You find you have to think like an executive and ask the questions.  Who is going to work hard?  Who seems the most hungry for it?  You know what I mean?”

According to her, “The contestants this year are really strong.  We have about seven — at least– true stars.  Ones you kind of gawk over and lose your breath over.”

We’ll see.


As ‘X-Factor’ Competition Nears its Peak, ‘Excellence is Highly Expected’ Says Brian Friedman

            The “X-Factor’s” Brian Friedman dances skillfully around queries about the dramas going on behind the scenes on the Fox competition show that’s now in semi-finals, gearing up for its Dec. 20 grand finale.  For example, gossip maven Perez Hilton’s report that Britney Spears has been shunning fellow judge Demi Lovato as well as cohost Khloe Kardashian.

“It’s definitely a high tension work environment, that’s for sure,” he says, laughing.  “There’s never a dull day, I can give you that much.”

On top of his on-camera presence, Creative Director and Supervising Producer Friedman directs and stages every “X-Factor” performance, and heads up its team of choreographers.

It’s not unusual, he says, for dress rehearsals to generate “tons of notes for wardrobe changes, lighting changes, things being moved around” – and he’s in the middle of all the artists’ camps.

“There is a lot to take in, for sure, and that doesn’t even include the personalities that are around a show like this.  Everyone wants to win, so you see their attack mode come into play.  You’re dealing with egos.  It’s definitely a people position having to navigate through all the different personalities who are on the show.  It’s not easy at all times, but it helps me learn how to have patience,” he says.

Now there’s an understatement.

Regardless which of the “X-Factor” semi-finalists (pop princess-in-waiting Carly Rose Sonenclar, country star-to-be Tate Stevens, and boy and girl groups Emblem3 and Fifth Harmony, respectively) winds up nabbing the $5 million recording contract prize, they’ll be ready to move seamlessly into their professional career.  At least, that’s certainly the sense one gets from Friedman.

“The rehearsals we have with the contestants are straightforward and to the point.  We get them the information they need and they’ve just got to learn to work at a pace that is required when they’ve got changes at the last minute.  Sometimes they go on stage and they’re being redirected as they’re singing their song, where to go on stage,” says Friedman.  “Excellence is highly, highly expected.”

Friedman’s list of credits includes Spears’ videos and tours – as well as work with such names as Prince, Mya, Rihanna, *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Usher, Pink and Mariah Carey.  He says that “All the artists I worked with outside of the show gave me a bar for the contestants to have to achieve to.  I don’t expect anything less than the greatness that I’ve worked with.  Although they are amateurs and they’re brand new, they want to compete in the industry with the professionals, so we treat them as if they are at that caliber and at that level already.

“I know what it takes to put on awards show performances.  I know what it takes to build massive tours for the biggest artists.  So, that’s essentially what we’re doing for these contestants here every week – we’re giving them a taste of what the real world will be like and also giving them a challenge to see if they can work within it.”

On the other hand, Friedman points out that contestants are under pressures that are different from the pros.  “This is a competition, and every week there is so much more at stake, they are a little more stressed, I would say, than your average recording artist, who is in rehearsal for a long period of time, getting time to work their show out.  There is a high stress factor here.  Sometimes it’s difficult.  ”

Interestingly, Friedman — who has spent more time working on the British version of “X Factor” than the American one – finds at least one big difference between the two Simon Cowell shows.  “It feels like over-all, the U.K. in general, they seem to have more fun.”

As for himself, he says he handles the tension by going to the gym.  “I work my troubles away in the workout.”  And “I’ve been doing some fun stuff for me.  I’ve spent so much time working behind the scenes, I’ve been inspired to create more.”

That includes his just-launched clothing line, BSBF (for Brian Says Be Free). “My experience with casual wear has been that if you want really great, sporty casual wear that is moveable and danceable and something you could wear on an airplane and look great, you have to spend crazy amounts of money on designer stuff.  The average casual clothes don’t have the same style. And I want that style, I come from a fashion, style world.  So, if I can’t find them I’m going to make them and make them available for the public to buy because style should be available at any budget.”

Whatever the drama factor may be, he’s glad the show has brought him and Britney together again.  “It’s just a coincidence, but it’s great.  I started working with Britney in’99, and I was with her through many tours and choreographed her through many so many of her videos and awards shows and I’ve just been a friend of hers through the years.  This is sort of full circle to see her sitting up there at the judges’ table.  It’s really cool, it’s somewhere I don’t think either of us could have said 10 years ago, I bet we’re going to be sitting on a reality show, judging together.”

Nicole Scherzinger Finds Personal Time Hard to Come By

Nicole Scherzinger NBC photo

With her profile soaring ever higher thanks to “The X Factor,” Nicole Scherzinger admits that her biggest challenge is “trying to balance the work and the personal life.  I don’t know any boundaries, don’t know when say ‘No’ in my business life.” 

She goes on, “I think anybody who works really hard in this industry can relate.  Your personal life does kind of suffer.  You have so little time with your family and loved ones.  You find a way to work it out, wish you could have your cake and eat it, too.  Thank God for the wonders of Skye and Blackberrys.”  The former Pussycat Dolls frontwoman, who’s been dating Formula One race car driver Lewis Hamilton for four years, adds, “When you do have the time, that’s where it counts.  My family is very understanding.”

Fox’s Biggest Bets for Fall: Simon Cowell and Dinosaurs

Simon Cowell

Fox President Kevin Reilly pretty much spelled out the importance of Simon Cowell’s “X Factor” to the network, saying the network had built its fall schedule around the competition that will take up two and a half hours of weekly prime time real estate on the schedule. 

The “X Factor” TCA panel certainly attested to interest in the new show, with a packed Beverly Hilton ballroom that even included Chef Gordon Ramsay.  The main course at an earlier session. the chef stuck around to watch Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and the rest of the live ”X Factor” panel – and Cowell, who was present via live video hookup.  We happened to be next to the Chef as he responded with a laugh here, a comment under his breath there, clearly into the whole “X Factor”-Cowell oeuvre.  Reilly  referred to Cowell as having a “dark charm” that’s irresistible.  That could describe the chef as well.            

 The panel gave a taste of the all-too-familiar Abdul on the highwire feeling, as her statements meandered.  Would she make sense?  Or fall?  Abdul told the assembled writers that “Simon is turning into me,” for example.  Say what?  She meant he’s a “pussycat” on the new show.  Time will tell.

ALSO:  Another Fox gamble is the modern family-in-prehistoric-times “Terra Nova,” with a producing team that includes “24’s” Brannon Braga — and has Steven Spielberg’s imprimatur.  Many questions had to do with the special effects dinosaurs that inhabit this hostile environment, and whether the “Terra Nova” team could get the episodes finished in time.  Producers were quick to insist they’re going to make it – even though they allowed that there was a “learning curve” for the innovative motion capture photography and CGI techniques being used on the show.  However,  the family at the center of the series has to be relatable, stressed  Executive Producer Jose Molina.  “If the audience doesn’t care about them, it doesn’t matter how great the dinosaurs look.”

Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’ Will Compete in Different TV Landscape Than Anticipated

Simon Cowell

When Simon Cowell announced his intention to depart “American Idol” at the beginning of last year, the move was applauded as shrewd.   Now, maybe not so much.

The show was looking weary indeed after all the Paula Abdul drama, and he was off to fresh pastures before it completely jumped the shark, it was believed.  His U.S. version of “X Factor” might be just the thing to fill the void if and when “Idol” went kaput.

“X Factor” is different from “Idol,” as he explained to press during that January’s Television Critics Association tour, because it has no age limit and can be solo or group singers — and each judge takes a group of contestants under their wing and mentors them in everything from styling and choreography to song choice. “So essentially the judge is judged as well as the singer.”

How different the picture looks now, even as “X Factor” auditons are taking place across the land and new show announcements are flying.

“American Idol” has been revitalized by charismatic, stardust streaming Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, who work with Randy Jackson as an excellent team.  (That was one of our New Year’s predictions, by the way.)

And NBC’s “The Voice” has come along, preceded by a promotional campaign that looked like an experiment in whether it’s possible to beat audiences into submission with relentless, repetitious hype.

Of course, we all know that “The Voice” is different from “American Idol” because they have neat swiveling chairs with big red panic buttons, and each judge takes a group of contestants under their wing and mentors them.  So essentially the judge is judged as well as the singer.   Hm.   Sound familiar?

Interesting that Simon has recently been saying he’s keeping details of the new “X Factor” under wraps because other producers “watch you and copy you and you see your show on other people’s shows.”

Yes, that’s a problem — no doubt going even further back than “Pop Star” producer Simon Fuller’s 2005 U.K. suit claiming “X Factor” was a copy of his show.

“The Voice”so far has posted  numbers promising a big hit for NBC.  And let’s not forget, the peacock network also has “America’s Got Talent,” produced by none other than Simon Cowell, coming back May 31 and auditions are going on for that show as well.

So, what will all this do to “X Factor” by the time it’s finally unveiled in the fall on Fox, with cohosts Corbin Bleu and Nicole Sherzinger and judges Cowell, L.A. Reid, Cheryl Cole and (?!) Paula Abdul?  Dare we say it?  You be the judge.