The will-she/won't-she surrounding the possibility of X Factor judge Cheryl Cole joining the US version with Simon Cowell has been, frankly, a torturous guessing game. Here in the UK, barely a day's gone by without a tabloid newspaper or gossip blog claiming to have a big exclusive on Cheryl Cole's success/failure on transferring to X Factor USA. It stopped being a worthwhile story sometime in January, but I assume any excuse to mention Cheryl Cole boosts page-hits and sales.
But today, finally, it was officially confirmed by Fox that Cheryl Cole will definitely sit alongside Simon Cowell for the US remake -- scheduled to air on Fox this autumn. Cowell and Cole join music mogul L.A Reid and another as-yet-unannounced judge, still rumoured to be Paula Abdul from American Idol.
X Factor USA is allegedly going to be hosted by former-Pussycat Doll singer Nicole Scherzinger, who guest-judged X Factor when Cheryl Cole was sick with malaria last summer. Incidentally, would that be wise? Scherzinger has next to no live TV presenting experience, after all.
"I'm thrilled for Cheryl. She is massively excited about this show, and has been fantastic to work with. She is also a complete brat! Most importantly, this girl can spot talent."Cheryl Cole:
"I'm so excited to be taking part in the American version of The X Factor. I absolutely love it here in the UK, and with the talent they have out in America, I'm sure we're going to find someone very special. I can't wait to get started.Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting Company:
"I just can't decide whether I am more excited to find and nurture the talent or for the unbelievable amount of amusement and entertainment I will have watching Simon doing everything and anything he can to beat me. He's tried to beat me for three years in the UK, and hasn't even come close. His ego must be so bruised. America is gonna love this."
"Cheryl Cole has the whole The X Factor package: she's an incredibly talented artist and performer, as well as a style icon, and she has that special charisma that draws in fans around the world. Cheryl's charm and chemistry with Simon have been a key part of the overwhelming success of The X Factor in the UK, and we can't wait to welcome her to the US on our air."It's a very interesting proposition seeing Cheryl Cole transfer to the US in this manner. There's the obvious issue of her Geordie accent being impenetrable to the natives (who think we all talk like Hugh Grant), and therefore the possibility she'll adopt a highly amusing trans-Atlantic middle ground when the cameras roll. But perhaps more importantly, Cole's someone who's going to be judging American wannabes from the incongruous position of being a virtual unknown there herself!
Cole certainly does have good talent show credentials: a former auditionee on Popstars: The Rivals (a precursor to Pop Idol and American Idol), she became part of the show's winning group, Girls Aloud, who went on to become arguably the world's biggest girl group in the mid-'00s, before developing a successful solo career off the back of her X Factor work in the UK. But Girls Aloud never broke America (to be fair, they never even tried), so Cole's career means very little to everyday Americans. How will the masses react to a beautiful stranger critiquing their nation's amateur singers?
Working in her favour, Cole's incredibly photogenic and seems like a very nice person. I'm sure her career's going to receive a boost Stateside whatever happens, even if it's just some lucrative modeling contracts.
Anyway, Fox have all summer to try and sell Cheryl Cole to America, ahead of X Factor's premiere. That's long enough. Two months ago, America didn't know who Jessie J was, remember. There are already reports the Fox TV show Glee is going to cover Cole's "Parachutes" as a standout group performance in an upcoming episode. I'm sure Cole's people have her charm offensive planned to precision. Expect lots of chat show appearances, perhaps alongside Cowell -- whose trust in her abilities undoubtedly helped persuade executives to give her the job. Her showbiz friend Will.i.am may also help introduce her to the nation. I suppose it's possible she may release "Parachutes" as a single, hoping for a sleeper summer hit thanks to American curiosity.
But where does all this leave the original X Factor, a show that's now lost its two biggest celebrity judges? I doubt judges Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh will be dropped, as they'll be needed to keep a sense of continuity for the next series. Reports suggest that Take That's Gary Barlow, Oasis' Noel Gallagher, Lily Allen and Alesha Dixon are being courted to fill the gaps. Are either of them up to that task? Is the UK X Factor destined to dwindle without Cowell and Cole involved? Or will X Factor UK, rather like American Idol this season, suffer only a minor dip in the ratings?
X Factor USA's filmed auditions start on 8 May, so an announcement about the remaining fourth judge and host will be imminent.