Cole out of U.S. "X Factor"; accent not to blame

Mon Jun 6, 2011 4:22pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British singer Cheryl Cole's replacement on the much-hyped U.S. version of "The X Factor" was confirmed on Monday, ending almost two weeks of rumor and speculation about the line-up.

But sources close to the singing contest denied that Cole was dumped because of problems with her strong Northern English accent, or that the last minute changes were an elaborate PR stunt ahead of the show's debut on Fox television in the fall. Instead, the problem was Cole lacked personality, the sources said.

"Cheryl's accent was not the issue. I can assure you, it is not a stunt. You would have to be a PR genius, or nightmare, to think it was a stunt," one person involved in negotiations told Reuters on Monday.

"The X Factor", created by British entrepreneur Simon Cowell, is the highlight of Fox television's upcoming fall television schedule.

Cole, who was Cowell's personal choice for the panel, will be replaced by Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, who was previously announced as the co-host of the show, Fox television and Cowell's production company said in a brief statement on Monday.

Cole was also dropped last week from the British version of "The X Factor" -- Britain's most-watched TV show.

Cole, a singer with the group Girls Aloud, is a household name in Britain but unknown in the United States. She had already filmed two audition episodes of "The X Factor", along with Cowell, former "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul and record producer Antonio "L.A." Reid.

Cole's role in those auditions will not be cut when the show airs, but producers have not yet decided how to explain her brief appearance to U.S. viewers, the sources said.   Continued...