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The premiere of The X Factor is exactly one week away, and Simon Cowell isn’t mincing words when it comes to what he views as the violation of a “gentleman’s agreement” with rival show The Voice airing three episodes against the Fox series: “I am pissed off about it.”
In a telephone conference call with reporters, Cowell sounded off against The Voice creator Mark Burnett, who earlier today told TMZ he was “unaware” of the added scheduling of episodes slated for next week.
“Give me a break. Like I don’t know when my show is going out next week,” he scoffed. “I think this is the reason why NBC decided to putThe Voice against us; it’s a spoiling tactic. It’s very simple: They don’t want people to see this first episode. I think it’s mean-spirited and I hope and I pray that it backfires on them because this is one of the best shows we’ve ever made.”
Cowell continued that tacking on an additional night of The Voice may turn viewers off.
“I think three nights in a row is too much,” he said. “ I think there’s a lot of interest, rightly so, in our show because of Britney [Spears], Demi [Lovato], and the way the show is going to look. We’re going to see what happens, but I’ve learned don’t make any predictions. “
The X-Factor’s youngest judge, Demi Lovato, echoed Cowell’s sentiments that NBC is playing dirty.
“I think the whole situation is a little unfair and I don’t know why they would do that, but ultimately it’s about finding a superstar and giving people the chance to win a huge prize of $5 million,” she said.
Cowell hinted that the show may have found a slew of potential pop stars this season, and revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that two categories are looking particularly strong.
“Interestingly, although they were weak last year, I think the groups are very strong this year, and particularly the 12-17 year old contestants that are like a whole new breed that actually haven’t been brought up on these types of shows before,” he said. “They have been influenced by what they see on YouTube, Social Networking and stuff like that, and they have brought something interesting to the show. It’s very competitive this year, and right from the get-go you are going to see some amazing people in the first episode.”
What you won’t see in the first episode — or the first three or four weeks — is a host. The straight-shooting Brit said he decided to go with a boy host and a girl host, because one announcer would be too “boring…as [American Idol host] Ryan Seacrest has demonstrated.” He revealed that a decision may be announced in “three or four days.”
The auditions do not even feature a voiceover, and the contestants will be the ones telling the story.
“[This year] we allowed the audience to see more of the audition process…How the contestants interact with each other, how they prepare and in the case of the first audition there is an awful lot of bitchiness that happens behind the scenes that you don’t normally see, and I find it fascinating to watch,” he said.
One thing Cowell says will surprise viewers: don’t look to Spears to coddle contestants like departed judge Paula Abdul. Responding to Voice judge and fellow ex-Mousketeer Christina Aguilera’s remarks questioning Spears’ judging skills, Cowell hissed, “Tell her to watch the show. She might learn something.”
“I think Britney is a fascinating person. She is very unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen,” she said. “She is surprisingly quite mean. In the past we had judges that could never say no. She can’t say no quick enough on this show. She is quite difficult to please…When you do these auditions in front of 5,000 people, they boo you. She was kind of fearless.”
Lovato said Spears is “funny, witty and quirky.”
“The world hasn’t gotten a chance to see her personality over the last couple years. This is a chance to see the light inside of her shine,” she said.
Cowell also gave props to judge L.A. Reid, chairman of Sony’s Epic Records, and his presence at the judge’s table, but was quick to point out that their inter-judge competition is still in play.
“L.A. is on the panel because, like me, we are two of the biggest hit makers in the world right now. As important as it is to have artists on the panel, you have got to have people who are currently having hit records. Otherwise it is impossible to judge these shows,” he said. “[But] L.A. is annoyed with me this year because last year he had Justin Bieber and this year I have got One Direction.”
The X Factor debuts Wednesday, Sept. 12. The first cities featured will be Austin, Texas, San Francisco, and Providence, RI.
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