'X Factor' U.K. Launches Facebook Auditions as Simon Cowell Biography Makes Waves
LONDON -- Wannabe singers seeking fame and fortune via the U.K. version of The X Factor will be able to kick-start their campaigns from the comfort of their own bedrooms.
The show, from Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment and aired on commercial network ITV here, is linking with Facebook to allow contestants to send in auditions via the social network site for the first time.
The Facebook partnership comes as the British media lit up Wednesday with revelations about X Factor star Cowell from a no-holds-barred unofficial biography being serialized in The Sun. The tabloid newspaper is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., whose Fox network is the home of the U.S. version of X Factor.
According to reports picked up by media outlets across the U.K., Cowell enjoys twice-yearly Botox, regular colonic irrigation and intravenous vitamin injections to keep him looking young.
Penned by Tom Bower, Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell also set British water-cooler talk alight with such intimacies as Cowell’s preference for black toilet rolls in his bathroom and the fact that he has a feature in his garden that makes him look as though he can walk on water.
Cowell took to Twitter to point out that this was not an official biography, though he did not deny he had taken part in the book's preparation. He said: "This book is not written by me. It is unauthoried. The writer is Tom Bower."
Cowell’s publicist guru Max Clifford told ITV's morning show Daybreak he was "disappointed" that Cowell had agreed to speak to the author.
"We discussed it, and I told him to keep well away from Tom Bower," he said. "In my view, once you speak to someone, you're working with them. The book hasn't done anything that's going to increase his popularity with anybody. It makes him appear to be someone who talks about his private life. He doesn't."
Away from the furor, hopefuls visiting a dedicated X-Factor Facebook page or the official X Factor U.K. site can click the audition tab and upload a video of themselves singing with or without a hairbrush between now and midday May 8.
But the process only gives them the chance to audition in front of the show’s producers.
The 2012 show's open-auditions tour of six major British cities already has been completed, with applicants who passed them progressing, like successful Facebook contestants, to the familiar stage shows in front of the judges, which are still to come.
Take That star Gary Barlow said Tuesday he is returning to the show as a judge for this season.
Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland and Louis Walsh made up the other tastemakers for the 2011 season, but they have yet to confirm a return.