Britney Spears Joining ‘The X-Factor’


On the O.G. British version of the Simon Cowell-helmed talent-search glitter explosion that spawned One Direction, the judging panel includes a couple of major ‘90s pop veterans, including Take That (Robbie Williams’ boy band for those who spent those years outside of the UK or under a rock) frontman Gary Barlow and, up until recently, Girls Aloud member-turned-high-powered-WAG Cheryl Cole. The American version of the show, about to start its second season, will be taking the same route in enlisting former ‘90s tween/teen idols, when Britney Spears joins the panel next season on a $15 million deal, MTV reports.

Spears joins producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and former American Idol judge Paula Abdul. Fans and industry folks are watching her move to the show carefully, considering she’s been spending so little time in the public eye since her last album. Is this a Britney Spears comeback? Is this all part of a larger and perhaps diabolical plan? As Spears super-fan Jordan Miller points out to MTV, her public image has been so heavily monitored in the wake of her 2007 breakdown that the opportunity to go unscripted in front of a wide audience is actually a huge deal for her, and, for what it’s worth, an opportunity for her to show audiences what she’s capable of when going off-book. And hey, for a fledgling pop star who could barely string a sentence together when “Baby… One More Time” was released, getting a thumbs-up from B. Spears could be a huge vote of confidence.

Season 2 of The X-Factor will premiere at the end of September 2012. 

Morning Links: Kim Kardashian Moving to Brooklyn, Jon Hamm to Direct ‘Mad Men’

● Robot woman January Jones still won’t say who her baby-daddy is. [NYDN] ● Kim Kardashian and her fiance, Nets star Kris Humphries, are moving to Brooklyn. Think afternoons browsing the racks at Bird, old fashioneds at Prime Meats, and, when there are little ones, soccer games in Red Hook. “She will eat Brooklyn for lunch and go back for seconds at the Brooklyn Flea,” thinks the WSJ. [WSJ] ● American Idol star Kara DioGuardi had to be hospitalized after eating six of Paula Abdul’s pot brownies. [Huff Post]

● Shawn Carter, covert cameraman, hubby, and devout Beyoncé fan, says it best: “Sometimes you need perspective. You’ve been right in front of greatness so often that you need to step back and see it again for the first time. This is the dressing room rehearsal for American Idol. NO MICROPHONE. No effects.” [Life+Times] ● Jon Hamm is set to direct the season five premiere of Mad Men. Sounds sexy. [TVLine] ● Mark Zuckerberg has begun personally killing all the animals he eats. “He cut the throat of the goat with a knife,” a friend told Fortune, “which is the most kind way to do it.” Guess this is one way to stay grounded. [Fortune]

Morning Links: Justin Bieber a Brat on C.S.I., Pippa Middleton Offered $5 Million to Star in Porn

● It’s settled: seasoned judge Paula Abdul is set to join Cheryl Cole, former Def Jam president L.A. Reid, and her old friend Simon on the bench for The X-Factor. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take as long to pick the winner as it has the judges. [AP/NYT] ● The estimated $250,000 NBC exec Jeff Zucker spent on his son’s Bar Mitzvaha got him a performance from Drake, a raw bar, an iPad station, and converse shoes for all. [Page Six] ● C.S.I. costar Marg Helgenberger thought Justin Bieber was sort of a brat. “Actually, he was really nice to me but he locked one of the producers in a closet. And he put his first through a cake,” she said, describing the behavior of just about every other 17 year-old boy we’ve ever met. [NYDN]

● According to a poll in the Sunday Times, Daniel Radcliffe is the highest-earning British actor under 30, outpacing Robert Pattinson, Kiera Knightley, and even royal brothers William and Harry with some $78 million in earnings. Young Harry! Who knew? [Digital Spy] ● Of course nothing will come of this, but nonetheless, porn director Steven Hirsch has offered Pippa Middleton $5 million to star in just one sexy scene. And he hasn’t forgotten the other swoon-worthy Middleton — he’s made a $1 million offer to brother James. Thanks, but no thanks. [TMZ] ● Journalist Sebastian Junger says he may never return to a war zone after the loss of his collaborator Tim Hetherington. “Tim took the wind out of my sails,” he says, adding that, “You’re really responsible to more people than yourself.” [HR]

Now that We Won’t See Bin Laden, 5 Other Photos to Look Forward To

For a while there, it was really looking like the White House was going to release at least one image of a post-gun-shot-wound-to-the-head Osama Bin Laden. But now that it appears the President will officially deny us the pleasure of seeing Bin Laden’s brains, we’re going to need to shift our focus to other highly anticipated photographs. After the jump, check out five really exciting pictures our sour-puss president can’t stop us from seeing.

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman: While this isn’t nearly as exciting as seeing Heath Ledger fully Joker-fied for the first time, I await this with ample curiosity. How will it compare to Michelle Pfeiffer’s iconic getup? Will it look at ridiculous as Hathaway’s British accent sounds? And will we see it in a leaked set photo, or because of an elaborate viral reveal a la Joker? Regardless, it’s going to be good.

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt as an 18 year old: No one who’s seen a photo of this special little gal hasn’t imagined what she’ll look like as an adult. That’s just the way it goes when you have you-know-who and you-know-who as parents. Things seem to be right on track for the little tyke to claim her throne as the Queen of Symmetry. Only 4,768 days to go!

The First Publicity Still from The X Factor: You’re not the only one who thinks Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul reuniting to judge a different singing competition is too good to be true. We’ll believe it when we see it. Plus, toss in a richer, more powerful Randy and a sexier, more famous (in Britain, at least) Kara DioGuardi, and, well, this picture is going to be awesome!

Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln: When production on Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln biopic begins in Virginia this fall, it’ll only be a matter of time before we see a photo of the greatest living actor made to look like the greatest dead president (Sorry, Harding).

Mariah Carey’s Twins!: Oh Morrocan and Monroe, where art thou?

Did Simon Cowell Set Ellen Degeneres up for Failure?

American Idol has tested our patience in a variety of ways over the past year: Ousting Paula Abdul, the non-event of Jordin Sparks’ only promising single and handing Adam Lambert a career were all crimes against a dedicated viewership. Now comes confirmation that the show probably won’t be around to test our patience for much longer, what with voice of reason and snark, Simon Cowell, departing. While there are many Americans, and many wannabe Idols, disappointed by this news, are any of us more screwed than newly-appointed judge Ellen Degeneres?

You see, Cowell has big dreams. He’s a big, big girl in a big, big world. He already put the Idol franchise out of business in the UK after launching X Factor and seems to be gunning to do the same here (with Paula’s help to boot: Cowell tapped her as a judge for the Americanized X Factor. Which only hurts deeper, because too many of us were gunning for this to be original X Factor judge Cheryl Cole‘s big American break. ). So, in short, he recruited Ellen and then he ditched her.

Is Ellen, a queen of daytime TV second only to Oprah, terribly miffed at SiCo’s planned exit? Well, yes and no. She and the other Idol judges are handling SiCo’s planned exit quite well. She joked in a video posted to her website, “He announced he’s leaving on my first day. I’m trying not to take it personally.”

Paula Abdul Shines As Breakout Star on ‘VH1 Divas Live’

So last night, VH1’s christening of the next generation’s pop primadonnas took shape as Divas Live. However, I missed the “live” part of the broadcast as I was off doing more important things at a bar in some part of Manhattan that probably should be called NoChita because Little Italy basically doesn’t exist anymore (by the by, happy birthday Foster!) Luckily, the magic of the internet makes it possible for me to immediately witness all of last night’s defining moments. Some were terrible, like Miley Cyrus sneezing her way through a duet with Sheryl Crow on the latter’s “If It Makes You Happy,” and Jordin Sparks singing a song that is not “Battlefield” even though that is the only song by her any of us remotely care about. But there were a few brilliant moments too, apparently. Like Cyndi Lauper and Leona Lewis (I know, right!?), Kelly Clarkson, solo and with Melissa Etheridge. But the most pleasantly surprising part? Paula Abdul’s comeback coup.

Maybe it was the strain and pressure of a daily obligation like American Idol (or the constant bullying by one of her co-hosts) that curbed Abdul’s potential and transformed her into such a pill-popping punchline, but last night she was in top form. Glowing, in fact. Leaving Idol may have been the best career hiccup to happen to Abdul because at Divas Live, she exuded wit and moxie, both which somehow eluded her in the many years past. Not only did her shtick involve a gentle ribbing at her replacement, but it involved witty banter with a D-lister (how fitting for an event with so many non-divas) and an icon.

But first, her opening monologue:

Uncomfortable banter with Kathy Griffin:

A chat with Liza Minnelli:

Kathy Griffin Tickets

Ellen DeGeneres to Revive Fading ‘American Idol’

Sure, some of you might conjecture that tacking daytime-friendly funny lady/wife of Portia De Rossi onto the panel of alleged know-it-alls to determine America’s next big, great pop star may have been the most un-American thing that American Idol‘s producers could’ve done to us. And just in time to commemorate September 11, too! But this decision to cast Ellen DeGeneres as part of the Idol brain trust with Kara, Simon, and Randy isn’t a totally boneheaded move.

Paula Abdul’s pop origins were always dubious, and she’s always been a wild card at best. Never really revered for her singing or dancing ability, she soon became something of a self-defeating punchline. Her only purpose was to espouse the role of a lovable, drunk aunt to contestants who otherwise felt intimidated by Simon Cowell or annoyed by the other one (or two, as it became with the last season.) Apart from Oxycontin-addled histrionics, Abdul never really added anything of value. Her rah-rah-rahs were throwaway at best. With DeGeneres, we may not get someone qualified to lecture wannabes on pitch perfection, but rather someone who has seen a parade of pop stars perform on her talk show and has a sense of how to master showmanship.

Whereas SiCo brings the technical critiques (or just a million and one ways to tell performers that their performance was “too cabaret” — as if such a thing could ever be bad), Randy Jackson brings … a tenuous connection to 80s rock band Journey and his “dawg”-isms, and Kara DioGuardi brings a bitchy sense of entitlement, Ellen will bring a sense of fun. Or rather, as she puts it, “the people’s point of view.” But please, whatever you call it, don’t term it “hope.”

“I love everything about it and I love music, as you know. Hopefully I’m the people’s point of view because I’m just like you. I sit at home and I watch it and I don’t have that technical … I’m not looking at it in a critical way from the producer’s mind. I’m looking at it as a person who is going to buy the music and is going to relate to that person.” Her lips were apparently sealed for the past couple weeks while this deal was being ironed out. She also adds, “I’m thrilled to be the new judge on American Idol. I’ve watched since the beginning, and I’ve always been a huge fan. So getting this job is a dream come true, and think of all the money I’ll save from not having to text in my vote.”

We could while away the livelong day asking ourselves such silly questions like, “What business does someone who can’t sing have giving critiques to people who want to be pop singers?” But if we haven’t been asking that for the past eight years so, really, why start now?

Links: Gwyneth Paltrow’s vs. Coldplay, Liev Schreiber in Drag

● Leonardo DiCaprio is preparing to get all Christian Bale for his new film Inception. The actor is set to start a crash diet so he can appear emaciated for a pivotal scene in the film. [Radar] ● After a four-year hiatus, the VH1 Divas Concert is back on with everybody’s favorite incoherent diva Paula Abdul as host. [JustJared] ● Those rumors that Gwyneth Paltrow is the Yoko of Coldplay are back on now that the actress is allegedly trying to get husband Chris Martin to leave the band and go solo. [BettyConfidential]

● Neil Patrick Harris has been added to the revolving door of guest judges on American Idol that already include Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, and Joe Jonas. [LAT] ● There’s a feud brewing between Jay-Z and Bill O’ Reilly; the latter doesn’t care for the rapper’s new song that references O’Reilly, telling him to “fall back.” [Rap-Up] ● Liev Schreiber calls his turn as a transvestite in Taking Woodstock “exhilaratingly humiliating,” saying it was hard for him to look good in a dress. [People]

Paula Abdul’s Farewell Fakeout: Is She Returning to ‘American Idol’?

Chalk this one up to having to wade through a slow, mucky news cycle in the dead middle of August, but sources close to the pink fanged one report that these tears we’ve cried, that Adam Lambert has cried, these 1,000 oceans, were all in vain. Paula may have punked us. Despite leveraging her exit to drum up such plum roles on Ugly Betty and eight million other shows that peripherally deal with dancing, it seems she was using the very-real threat of leaving American Idol and taking the qualuude-addled heart of the competition with her to force the producers’ hands. It may have just worked.

Says the source, communicating via Morse code from the bunker where the pink one has him trapped, “Don’t count Paula out just yet.” As it turns out, AI producers and Abdul are currently embroiled in a high-stakes game of Uno to determine whether Abdul will rejoin the show and if so, for how much. So here’s hoping she makes the producers Draw Four as she lays down her penultimate card and punches the air defiantly. Because as a temporary stand-in, Posh Spice may not work out so well after all.