July 23, 2012 3:46pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TCA 2012: Britney Spears Talks 'X Factor,' Simon Cowell Slings 'Idol' Barbs
The most anticipated appearance during Monday's Fox lineup at the Television Critics Association summer press tour was technically in absentia.
Britney Spears, joined by fellow X Factor judges Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid and Demi Lovato, spoke with reporters during a live feed from the reality competition's Miami boot camp. It was the singer's first real opportunity to talk about taping the audition rounds and her new judging gig. There was the obligatory "happy to be here," but she did give some back story in her decision. And Cowell was quick to point out her high standards.
TCA 2012: Live Updates
"My makeup artist was the same makeup artist for Simon and we talked about it a couple times when I was on tour," she said of early conversations. "It made sense. I adore Simon, and it was something I really wanted to do."
Cowell noted less serendipitous circumstances.
"I'm not going to lie about this," he said. "I always said the No. 1 person I wanted on one of these shows was Britney. She's intriguing. You see a different side to her and she's a really great judge. ... Britney is quite mean, which you'll soon discover."
"I think it's just based on myself and who I am," she said of her judging style. "I'm a very honest person."
When questions turned to fell new judge Lovato, Cowell got a little more playful. "Demi is a brat," he said, "but there's something really likable about her as well."
As far as further changes in the series go, which axed host Steve Jones and judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul at the end of its freshman run, Cowell said he was happy with the current lineup. "The package we have together makes it so much fun to do the show," he said. "It's made it a lot of fun for me."
And a host announcement is expected to come by mid-August, helpful considering the series' gets an early return on Sept. 12. Cowell remains interested in splitting the duties between two new additions.
"That's the plan ... to have a boy and a girl," he said. "We'd ideally like someone who's never been a host before."
The new season sees X Factor airing at the same time as another singing competition when NBC debuts the fall run of The Voice, and it's something he made several veiled references to throughout the presentation.
"Don't say, 'The Voice,'" he said, when one reporter asked Spears and Lovato which competitions they liked watching. They toed the Fox line by replying "American Idol," though Cowell saw some problems there, too.
"Seasons one through eight are good," he said. The only direct question he actually fielded about his former series was of the morning's announcement of Mariah Carey officially joining Idol.
"I'm happy for her," said Cowell. "I like Mariah. I think she's going to find it difficult to say no... She's sweet."