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'X Factor' Shake-up: What the Media is Saying

Simon Cowell
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Simon Cowell's TV slaughter of castmates including Paula Abdul have people casting judgments -- and conspiracy theories -- over what happened, and how to fix the Fox show.

The news that Simon Cowell fired Nicole Scherzinger, Steve Jones and close friend Paula Abdul from The X Factor came as a shock to many media observers.

Cowell, the Fox show's creator who moonlights as a judge, has kept L.A. Reid on the judges' panel -- for now. Meanwhile, Abdul -- dubbed by a THR source as "irrelevant to the mix" -- and non-fan favorite Scherzinger were shown the door Monday night, along with host Jones. (He tweeted, diplomatically: "Good luck to everyone on the show.)

According to sources, the decisions not to renew the trio's contracts came about during a confab in the U.K. over how to improve X Factor following less-than-expected ratings and buzz. Cowell apparently feels the show requires a dose of celebrity on the panel for season two.

STORY: How Simon Cowell Axed Abdul, Jones And Scherzinger

Meanwhile, the media's Cowell watchers are puzzling over the post-season cast slaughter, with David Hinckley of the New York Daily News surmising that Abdul was better off on American Idol.

"The persona that worked well for her on American Idol, at least to a good part of the audience, wasn't so much an option on X Factor, which has a whole different rhythm," Hinckley wrote.

"Because X Factor requires judges to be mentors and to compete against each other, Paula couldn't simply sit back and be the eternally understanding big sister. She couldn't just send all the contestants on their way by telling them never to give up their dream."

GALLERY: 'X Factor' Finale: The High and Low Notes

Meanwhile, Time magazine critic James Poniewozik wondered whether Cowell's firings could rescue the series, which isn't on Fox's schedule for Fall 2012 and has been criticized for having too many Idol-like similarities.

"The problem, indeed, may be that X Factor is distinguished too much from Idol, or at least that the ways it differs most from Idol are not, for the US audience, improvements," said Poniewozik. "I was not a regular X Factor viewer last fall -- I gave it a shot early but was turned off by all the bombast and pyrotechnics -- but from what I saw, I got more of an America’s Got Talent vibe from the show: that is, it played and felt like a talent show, not (as Idol does) as a search for a recording star."

He added: "I also wonder if the producers might want to reconsider the group category, which may just not be of as much interest here as it is on the hit British version."

The Los Angeles Times wrote of the possibility that "Rachel Crow's revenge" contributed to Scherzinger's exit following the tween contestant's untimely departure for which fans blamed Scherzinge.

And CNN's Piers Morgan mourned the loss of Jones, tweeting: "Sad to see @SteveJones leaving X Factor. Top lad, and thought he did a great job."