'X Factor': Demi Lovato Nears Deal for Fourth Judge Spot (Exclusive)

 Christopher Polk/Getty Images for PCA

As the countdown to Season 2 of The X Factor continues, the fourth judge is falling into place. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that pop star Demi Lovato is closing a deal to join Britney Spears in the seats vacated by Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul after Season 1.

The deal is not yet done and could fall apart, but sources say Lovato's team is in final negotiations for the job.

THR had previously heard that the final judge would be a brunette, and the choice of the former Disney Channel star certainly fits that criteria. X Factor creator and star Simon Cowell is particular about the casting of his judge panels. More important, 19-year-old Lovato would bring with her a younger audience (her current single, "Give Your Heart a Break," which she recently performed on American Idol, is No. 74 on the Billboard Hot 100). Spears, while still a force in pop music, is 10 years older than Lovato. Returning judge and Epic Records chairman L.A. Reid rounds out the panel. 

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Lovato, like former teen star Spears, has seen her share of tabloid headlines, which could spur tune-ins for curiosity's sake. Two years after Lovato released her debut album, 2008's Don't Forget, she checked herself into an Illinois rehabilitation center for physical and emotional issues stemming from bulimia and self-injury. She was released in January 2011. 

Reps for Fox and Lovato would not comment and a spokesperson for the show refused to confirm talks, though there’s a good chance Cowell and crew are planning to make an X Factor-related announcement at the Fox upfront event for ad buyers May 14. Auditions with the new judges in place are scheduled to begin at the end of the month.

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Speaking to THR in April, FremantleMedia CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz, who executive produces the show, said negotiations likely would go down to the wire. "These things always drag out to the very last minute," she said. "It's human nature. But it has to get done, so it will get done."

Asked about what sort of "chemistry" the producers hope to get from the new panel, Frot-Coutaz said that Season 1 lacked "a real point of view" to make X Factor feel like a different show from the other singing competitions. "It didn't do that," she said. "It was just another version of what was out there, and that was the problem."

Twitter: @shirleyhalperin

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