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JUN
9
4 YEARS

'X Factor:' Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger React to Cheryl Cole Drama

Scherzinger officially stepped in for Cole as judge at the New Jersey auditions, which taped on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger
Getty Images

Nicole Scherzinger debuts as judge in the New Jersey audition episodes of X Factor, which taped Wednesday and Thursday in nearby Newark.

Scherzinger replaced Cheryl Cole, who was ousted after just four shows.

When asked about the drama that has been widely covered by the media, Scherzinger told THR outside the Prudential Center Thursday that she "tries not to read that" and called Cole "a lovely, beautiful girl."

When asked if it was a challenge to switch roles, Scherzinger said, "Not at all. I'm just so happy to be a part of this show, no matter what."

Of judging, "I was nervous," Scherzinger admits. "I'm much more comfortable on stage." To make her more comfortable, the panel has been "smacking me, hitting me - I'm joking!"

Wearing 6-inch Christian Louboutin heels and a minidress in the 109-degree heat (we checked WeatherChannel.com for the heat index) outside the arena, the former Pussycat Doll gushed about Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and L.A. Reid.

"L.A. is my idol," she said, joking that she is fighting with Cowell in her head and that she grew up following Abdul's career.

Scherzinger called the U.S. adaptation of Cowell's singing competition (the Freemantle and Fox show premieres this September), "frickin' wicked awesome. It's like a spaceship coming to America to give the people what they want." The winner will be awarded a $5 million recording contract.

Reid didn't have as much to say about Cole. When asked if he had a comment, he said curtly, "I don't. Thank you, love." But he was more enthusiastic about the contestants. "We are getting some great, great talent," he said.

With the temperature rising outside (one fan who showed up to watch the taping had to be treated by paramedics for dehydration; a show source said she "was fine"), the red carpet was moved inside to the lobby of the Prudential Center. There, Abdul told THR of Cole, "As I've said, she's uber-talented. She's lovely. We're friends. We have a great time together."

She's also "having the greatest time" working with Cowell again.

"This sounds out of character… We're laughing a lot. He's actually saying, 'I have to agree' with me," joked Abdul. "I have the horrible feeling the other shoe will drop. He's being charming in a weird way."

Cowell isn't having as much fun with Abdul, jokingly called her "irritating" to reporters.

So far, the younger contestants have impressed him the most, including a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old who auditioned on Wednesday, he said.

Fremantle CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz was enthusiastic about the show. "I'm super happy," she said of the competition, adding that auditions have been going "incredibly well" so far. The judge chemistry is "really good," she said.

Some 3,400 fans held free tickets to the Prudential Center to watch the auditions, which taped for several hours.

Lindsay.Powers@thr.com

Twitter: LKPE

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