Based on a new sizzle reel unveiled Monday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills, and a subsequent pow-wow with Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, Season 2 of Fox’s The X Factor will at the very least feature entertaining banter and excoriating barbs.
“Britney is quite mean, which you’ll discover,” Cowell said during a Q&A session, in which he and the X Factor team appeared via satellite (as they are currently in Miami for the Boot Camp rounds).
Lovato jumped to Spears’ defense, saying her fellow new judge is “tough, not mean….a sweetheart who’s very honest.” Cowell countered by saying Spears was “sweet as a lemon.”
Moments later, when Lovato said that Cowell needed to get used to her and Spears allying – saying, “You’re going to have two girls” – he cheekily retorted, “I’ve had that.”
All in all, Lovato and Cowell mixed it up the most, both during the Q&A and in the clips shown to the press, with the former Disney queen oft lobbing cross-generational jabs at Cowell.
“Demi is a brat,” Cowell said during the panel, “but there’s something really likeable about her as well.” Adding Lovato and Spears to the dais — where they replace Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger — will help the show, Cowell said, “because it has such a young audience.”
The added bonus of the new hires: “They are harder to please than me or L.A.,” Cowell admitted. “They’re very happy giving people a no.” (Unlike, Cowell ventured, newly minted American Idol judge Mariah Carey, who he suspects is too “sweet” to get too negative.)
Spears, though she was somewhat animated during the promo reel as she zinged one singer after another, was comparatively muted during the panel discussion, never quite uncorking a meaningful insight.
“I’ve done eight tours and I’ve been in the music industry for a whole, and being able to give back and help” up-and-coming singers is why Spears joined up with X Factor, she said. “It’s different from anything I’ve ever done.”
Said Cowell, “The No. 1 person I ever wanted on one of these shows was Britney, because I’m fascinated with her as a person and as a pop star…. And she’s a really, really good judge.”
Elsewhere during the panel discussion, Cowell said to expect an announcement on the new cohosts – likely one male, one female – by mid-August. “Ideally we’d like someone who hasn’t been a host before,” he said.
Also, noting that there’s “an awful lot of competition we’ve got to fight against this year,” X Factor, in addition to the new judges, will make “some changes editorially and to the look of the show,” Cowell said, without getting into specifics. The X Factor‘s two-night season premiere airs Wednesday, Sept. 12 and Thursday, Sept. 13.