'The X Factor's' Simon Cowell Calls His New Show a 'Game Changer,' But Is It?

The exec producer and judge argues his new reality competition will be like nothing we've seen before.
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Simon Cowell believes that his new reality talent competition for Fox, The X Factor, will be like nothing television audiences have seen before. He bravely appeared alone via satellite at Friday’s Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour before his new colleagues took the stage to say pretty much that.

“We see this as a game changer,” Cowell says. “We’re going to change the rules. We want to find completely different contestants.”

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Of course, the field of reality talent competitions has gotten very crowded. And The X Factor arrives just as NBC made its successful entry into the field with The Voice. Cowell says he has nothing against NBC’s show and actually found it quite good, but doesn’t believe the two shows are in competition.

“I see it the same as movies,” he explains. “In one year, you can have 10 great movies and in another one you can have none. The idea that there was going to be one singing competition in America is crazy.”

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel some competitive spirit when it comes to other shows and more specifically his former home, American Idol. “You don’t do anything to get the silver medal. In the next few weeks, we’re going to do all we can to be the best show.”

Yet, when it came to actually naming differences, Cowell and his new co-judges had a hard time actually explaining what those actually were. The show will have audition weeks, the show will have a mentoring period called “boot camp,” and then they’ll have the live shows

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From what we can tell, the series' first identifiable difference lies in raising the stakes by announcing that the $5 million prize would be in the form of cash and that its sponsor, Pepsi, will feature the winner in a Super Bowl commercial.

When judge Paula Abdul was asked to explain what makes the show different, she replied, “It’s grand scale. It’s epic. I’ve never seen so much talent. There are stars, not just one winner, but several stars will emerge.”

Abdul actually does mention the second biggest difference we found in the competition. It certainly has to do with the contestants. The series drops the age requirement down to 12 and there’s no upper limit. Cowell says the age limits are important as he’s all for finding undiscovered talent but also giving second chances, which he says as a playful reference to his and Abdul’s reunion. He also says that unlike American Idol, competitors who have had record contracts before are still eligible to complete.

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“I’m all for giving people comebacks,” Cowell gestures to Abdul with a smile. “Everyone deserves a third chance. It’s all about giving someone a shot even if they’ve had a record contract before and they screwed up.”

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro

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