Nicole Scherzinger to co-host "X Factor"

Sat May 7, 2011 10:27pm EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger will co-host the upcoming TV singing show "The X Factor", Fox television said on Saturday, but there was no official word on whether former "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul had signed up as the final judge.

Scherzinger will host the contest along with British TV presenter Steve Jones, Fox said in a statement. But on the eve of the first scheduled auditions in front of judges on Sunday, the statement omitted any mention of Abdul.

Abdul, who quit "Idol" two years ago in a contract dispute, was reported earlier on Saturday to be in final talks to join her old "American Idol" sparring partner Simon Cowell, British singer Cheryl Cole and record producer Antonio "L.A." Reid on the "X Factor" judging panel.

"The X Factor", created by English music entrepreneur Cowell, is due to air on Fox in the fall of 2011, offering a $5 million prize and a recording contract for the winner.

The celebrity line-up gives "X Factor" a strong British flavor, and gambles on introducing new faces to prime time U.S. television.

Although the sarcastic Cowell became a household name in the United States in his 10 years on "American Idol", Cole -- a member of British pop band "Girls Out Loud" -- is virtually unknown in the United States despite being a big star at home, where she has been a judge on the U.K. version of "X Factor."

Jones, a former fashion model and now a British TV presenter, is also a newcomer for U.S. audiences.

Cowell has spent more than a year putting together the celebrity line-up for his "X Factor" venture, which he announced in January 2010. He has made no secret of his desire to work again with Abdul.

Since Cowell announced plans for "X Factor", "American Idol" -- still the most-watched TV show on U.S. television -- has been revamped and has grown its audience after years of slipping ratings, and several other rival TV singing shows have been launched.

They include "The Voice" on NBC, which boasts a star power panel of coaches/judges in Christina Aguilera, country singer Blake Shelton, Maroon 5 front-man Adam Levine, and R&B singer and producer Cee Lo Green.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)