LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul reunited with Simon Cowell on Sunday, joining the celebrity panel on the upcoming U.S. version of the music impresario’s TV talent show “The X Factor.”
Abdul, whose love-hate professional relationship with the acerbic Cowell helped “American Idol” become the most-watched show on U.S. television, arrived in Los Angeles for the first “X Factor” auditions in front of judges.
“I’m thrilled,” Abdul told Reuters Television. “It’s a show you don’t have to calculate or guess how you’re going to approach it. I walk into this, it’s a new journey. It’s a brand new show and a new experience.”
Abdul, who quit “Idol” two years ago in a contract dispute, will join Cowell, British singer Cheryl Cole and record producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid on the “X Factor” judging panel.
Completing the celebrity talent, Fox announced on Saturday that former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger and British TV presenter Steve Jones would co-host the show.
“The X Factor” is due to air on Fox in the fall, offering a $5 million prize and a recording contract for the winner.
Cowell has made no secret of his desire to work again with the volatile but endearing Abdul, a choreographer and pop singer.
“This show would never have been the same without Paula, and I can’t believe I am saying this — I have missed her a lot,” Cowell said in a statement on Sunday.
The celebrity line-up gives “X Factor” a strong British flavor and gambles on introducing new faces to prime-time U.S. television.
Although 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, is also a newcomer for U.S. audiences. His better-known namesake, former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, said on Twitter that he was inundated with congratulatory messages, but sarcastically noted “it wouldn’t make sense to give the gig to someone who knows music.”
Cowell has spent more than a year putting together the team for his “X Factor” venture, which he announced in January 2010.
Since then, “American Idol” has brought in singer Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler as judges, and has grown its audience this season after years of slipping ratings.
Several other rival TV singing shows have also been launched, including “The Voice” on NBC, which boasts a star power panel of coaches/judges in Christina Aguilera, country singer Blake Shelton, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, and R&B singer and producer Cee Lo Green.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Alicia Avila, editing by Dan Whticomb