'X Factor' Drama: Cheryl Cole Has Offer to Return to Show

2:37 PM PST 06/05/2011 by Kim Masters
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

After the British pop star was effectively dropped from the show, an insider says Cole has been offered her original 'X Factor' US gig back.

Sources involved with the U.S. version of the X Factor confirm that British pop star Cheryl Cole has been offered a gig on the show—apparently to serve as a judge as planned.

While it’s not clear whether Cole has accepted, this latest development appears to be a victory for the singer in a public-relations and perhaps a brewing legal battle with production company Fremantle. It is likely she will return to the U.S. when auditions resume on June 9.

Cole was dropped from the U.S. version of the show after four days for reasons that remain unclear. Now, those involved with the show are suggesting that Cole was somehow off her game in the early going but that she has returned to form. Those sources are also spinning to the media that the decision to remove Cole from the U.S. show was somehow mutual but there's little to suggest that was the case.

Instead, these latest developments appear to be an attempt to resolve a battle that seems to have been waged in front of and behind the scenes. As THR has reported, British tabloids were a staging point for efforts to deflect criticism from Simon Cowell and to target Fox reality chief Mike Darnell as the person who insisted that Cole had to go. Those were countered by reports in other British papers that Cole felt that Cowell had in fact betrayed and humiliated her. (A source in Cole’s camp also confirmed to THR that the singer blamed Cowell for what had happened.)

And there was more than just public pressure: An insider says one of Cole’s managers, Will.I.Am, personally reproached Cowell for the way that Cole had been treated.

While Fremantle and Cowell apparently hoped Cole would return to the U.K. show, money appears to have become an object. An industry source says Cole asked for her full fee for the U.S. show ($1.5 million, according to TMZ) as well as full pay (reportedly 2.5 million pounds) to go back to the U.K. version of the show. The industry source tells THR that Fremantle bristled at this and two sides were in a stand-off. During the pause that followed, sources involved with the show now suggest that Cole was trolling for other offers. But it appears that Cole may have held the better hand from a legal perspective. A source in her camp made it clear that Cole was prepared to apply for a visa and return to the U.S. to avoid any argument that she had breached her contract.

It is unclear whether Cole will perform as a regular judge and if so, whether Nicole Scherzinger will be a co-host alongside Steve Jones as originally planned.

Fremantle and Fox, which will air the show in September, declined to comment. A source close to Cowell says he wants to put this flap behind him and wants the best for Cole.

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