Britney Spears Responds to ‘X Factor’ Walk-Off Reports

On Thursday, TMZ reported that Britney Spears angrily walked off the X Factor set after a contestant butchered her song, "Hold It Against Me." This led to much speculation over Spears’ reliability as a new judge on Simon Cowell’s American Idol clone, but in a video message to TMZ today, both Cowell and Spears–who tells Harvey Levin to "Play nice"–deny any strife.

Meanwhile, TMZ is out with another report detailing the unprecedented terms Spears was able to negotiate before signing on to judge the talent competition, including, apparently, the right to walk off set whenever she feels like it.

More details:

"X Factor" wanted Britney so desperately, she was able to negotiate terms that are "unheard of" — so say people with direct knowledge of her deal. As one source put it, "Simon is a smart and shrewd businessman who knew Britney could make his show and he was willing to give her just about anything to come on board — and he did."

So, will Spears be worth the headache that comes from working with her? I guess we’ll find out this fall.

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. 

Simon Cowell Wipes Himself with Black Toilet Paper

On Tuesday, Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell will hit bookstores (aka Kindles) everywhere. Tom Bower’s unauthorized biography of the former American Idol judge promises many salacious details into Cowell’s life. What are they? You might want to sit down for this one.

Cowell wipes his ass with black toilet paper! Like, what? This is one of those details that is simultaneously mundane and weird-as-hell. Which is kind of Cowell’s M.O., anyway, so perhaps it fits well into his fabulous, black toilet paper-using life.

Oh, Cowell also reportedly bought a $5 million Beverly Hills house as a parting gift to ex-fiancee Mezhgan Hussainy, but who cares? Black toilet paper! [via Gawker]

Teenage Girl & Adult Lady Humiliated in Equal Measure on ‘The X-Factor’

I have never watched The X-Factor and I have not yet figured out how it is different from American Idol other than employing a Pussycat Doll and a man named "L.A." as judges. But last night’s elimination was so mind-blowing that even I, someone who usually despises reality TV competition shows that aren’t about designing dresses or tricking money-hungry women into fighting over a poor man, couldn’t avoid the clip of a poor 13-year-old’s complete emotional breakdown when the clip hit the internet this morning.

Here’s the gist, for those who sometimes need Cliffs Notes for what passes as pop culture these days: two contestants were vying for a spot in the semifinals. Their names are Rachel Crow and Marcus Canty. (I’m sure those are names you will hear once again, most likely on a VH1 special called The Top 100 Reality TV Contestants You Forgot About, Part Two.) Judge L.A. Reid throws in a vote for Marcus, while Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell show their support for Rachel. Fourth judge Nicole Scherzinger is left to make a decision: she could either vote for Rachel, therefore kicking Marcus off the show, or vote for Marcus to let the audience vote decide the pair’s fate.

Scherzinger, who is getting paid millions of dollars to judge a competition, basically throws her hands up in the air with tears in her eyes and refuses to make the decision we all can tell she wants to make. Instead of casting a third vote for Rachel, she blabbers on about how she can’t be responsible for making such a tough choice. "Please don’t cry," the 13-year-old girl tells the 33-year-old woman. Scherzinger sends the vote into a deadlock, and then the anonymously European host announces that the audience voted for Marcus to stay. And that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Do you enjoy watching the hopes and dreams of adolescents being crushed in front of millions of people? Would you like to watch as the heart of a child is ripped out in front of America and then crushed on stage with the spiked heel of a Pussycat Doll’s stiletto? Are you unable to imagine the sight of Simon Cowell consoling a weeping teenager? Well, congratulations, because this is where we’ve ended up as humans. Check out the goods at the 2:15 mark in the video below:

How to Get on Forbes’ List of the Highest-Paid Men in Entertainment

Forbes released their list of the highest-paid men in entertainment, and in a shocking turn of events, Frank Stallone has assumed the top spot. We’re just kidding, of course, but the list only goes to ten and we assume he is number eleven. The rankings use estimated earnings between May 2010 and May 2011, and some of the entrants will surprise you.

Forbes lists can be infuriating reads in times of economic strife, but instead of enviously glaring at it, try to learn from the list. In the spirit of the getAbstract business books summarized in the SkyMall catalog, we present short tips on what you can glean from these mega-wealthy men of entertainment, and how to emulate them. See you on next year’s list!

Tiger Woods – $75 million ● Become the best golfer in the world. ● Sign various sponsorship deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars. ● Cheat on your wife and have lots of ambien-induced sex with porn stars. ● Become relatively bad at golf. ● Lose many of your sponsorships, but retain enough to stay on the Forbes list.

Howard Stern – $76 million ● Convince millions of people to listen to you every morning. ● Convince millions of people to pay to continue to listen to you every morning.

Leonardo DiCaprio – $77 million ● Learn how to speak with a Boston accent. ● Practice using it in The Departed. ● Use it again in Shutter Island. ● Don’t use it in Inception. ● Receive adulation and praise for your versatility.

Dr. Phil – $80 million ● Become friends with Oprah. ● That’s pretty much it.

James Patterson – $84 million ● Think of a story idea that a shut-in would describe as “thrilling.” ● Find a co-author or co-authors to help think of exciting adverbs. ● Remember to end chapters with your main character about to open a door.

Simon Cowell – $90 million ● Leave a lucrative singing contest on Fox. ● Start a new singing contest on Fox.

Elton John – $100 million ● Learn the piano. ● Get knighted. ● Buy an English-Swahili dictionary. ● Highlight “hakuna matata.” ● Have no worries.

Steven Spielberg – $107 million ● Produce Harry and the Hendersons. ● Just keep on milking that cash cow.

Jerry Bruckheimer – $113 million ● Open a map. ● Find different locations for CSI shows. ● Hire Justin Bieber to play a terrorist.

Tyler Perry – $130 million ● Dress in drag. ● Make vague allusions to the Bible. ● Become friends with Oprah.

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]

Kenneth Tong Apologizes for Anorexia Twitter Hoax

In case you’re out of the Twitter loop, Kenneth Tong, who’s a contestant on the current incarnation of Big Brother (UK), recently caused a minor stir by promoting what he calls “managed anorexia” via a “size zero pill.” Tong become a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, and drew the ire of many celebs, including Simon Cowell and Katy Perry. Well, today Tong announced via Twitter that the whole thing was a hoax.

Turns out Tong made a bet with a friend about whether he could become a globally-recognized figure within a week. He won. But now he feels terrible and is donating a bunch of money to eating disorder charities. This whole story seems too bizarre to even comment on, except to say, “Those crazy Brits,” and leave it at that. Then again, the fact that people gave serious thought to Tong’s tweets does highlight the glaringly disturbing fact that even the most minor celebrity can get the world’s attention solely by saying something idiotic, which I guess was Tong’s point in the first place. So let’s agree to never speak of Kenneth Tong again.

Here’s Tong’s full apology:

“I think it is time for to come clean. The whole size zero thing is a hoax. It came about after an interesting discussion I had with a friend of mine. The discussion centered round whether it was possible, to go from nowhere to be a globally recognized figure within a week harnessing the power of the internet and specifically Twitter, which I have always maintained is a better medium than national TV. My friend said it wasn’t possible. I said it was. To prove him wrong, I decided as a hoax to promote via Twitter something that was universally appalling, I chose managed anorexia. I would like to make it clear, I chose the subject as a hoax as I knew it’d be appalling to men and women. The campaign has worked; I have been a Trending topic on Twitter for over a week. I am scheduled to appear on TV, the Press and Radio shows, over the course of the next week: Grazia, Telegraph, The Sun, The Sunday Times etc. Now it’s time to come clean and stop the bandwagon. My honest personal opinion on managed anorexia is it is an disgusting and illogical idea. It is a mental illness. It cannot be managed. To all the people I have offended as part of this scientific experiment, I would like to apologize to you and to show my sincerity I will making a sizeable donation to beat: the leading UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families. Furthermore, I have decided to auction my custom Apple iPod Nano watch on Ebay, the proceeds from this will be going to the charity, beat.”

Simon Cowell Preparing for World Domination

I don’t believe in the devil per se, but I think a pretty good case could be made for his earthly incarnation being none other than American Idol’s prickly mastermind Simon Cowell. Unencumbered by the traditional pointy tail and pitchfork, he’s handsome, glib, narcissistic, and so demonically successful that it’s downright impossible not to imagine there being something supernatural afoot. What’s more, it’s clear that he’s bent on world domination. Now that his …Got Talent franchise is airing in some 80 countries, Cowell has announced that he’s ready to produce an international version.

According to Deadline Hollywood, the show will reach a global audience of some 300 million viewers and offer £1 million to the winner. Contestants are to be drawn from all of the program’s world franchises and the sing-a-thon will be held at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Unlike previous versions of …Got Talent, belters won’t have to submit to a humiliating panel of industry judges. Instead, TV audiences voting from home will have the last word. “It’s like coming out of the [soccer] Premiership into the Champions League,” Cowell said, adding that he was “excited.”

This last comment, of course, may already have closed out the competition for understatement of the year. Cowell’s amassed a fortune in excess of £165 million and looks suavely poised to enrich himself further with this new venture. I’m pretty sure that if you shaved his head you’d find three tiny sixes.

Simon Cowell’s ‘Idol’ Replacement: Lady Gaga, Noel Gallagher & Perez Hilton All Possible

Heartbreak make all of us dancers why don’t you? America is torn, what with Simon Cowell kicking this basset hound of a talent show out of his sprawling villa of an empire, instead taking in a more pedigreed pup like X Factor. X Factor, which overseas, has a pretty spotless track record when it comes to puking out fly-by-night pop stars like this broad, this broad, and a bloke who got to #1 by pretending to be Miley Cyrus. But with Cowell leaving such a large void in our hearts, who’s to fill in for him?

There are a lot of names being thrown about. Some sources have dropped Lady Gaga and Perez Hilton. Although Cowell himself mentioned the former only in a guest judge capacity and the latter because of his “good taste”. Which conflicts with another firm requirement he puts forward: “This person, specifically, has got to have a lot of experience in the music industry.” To his credit, Hilton did dupe a room full of suits into giving him his own record label imprint–as part of Warner Bros.

Also mentioned: The possibility of Howard Stern. Somehow Noel Gallagher has also ended up in the mix. Some are saying that Ellen, who’s already locked horns with Cowell, may just be pushed to becoming the new face of the singing competition.

But all this speculation is basically a long-winded and elaborate way of saying, “Why should the circus go on when the ringleader’s already set the tent on fire?” Because, America, it’s our job to pluck all the Adam Lamberts out there and push them to the forefront of national conversation. Showbiz depends on it.