photo: FoxBritney Spears was a one-and-done judge last season on “The X Factor,” L.A. Reid jumped off the show’s sinking ship last year, and rumors are still running rampant that co-host-without-the-most Khloe Kardashian won’t be coming back for Season 3. But at least there’s some stability in Simon Cowell’s topsy-turvy TV world, since—according to a radio interview he conducted Wednesday morning with his old “American Idol” crony, Ryan Seacrest—judge Demi Lovato and her fabulous topknot/stenciled eyebrows will likely be returning to the show this fall.
“Nothing is official, but I liked having Demi on the show. She’s fun to work with…I think we’d be crazy not to have her back,” Simon told Ryan—indicating that there’s an actual warm relationship behind his bickering buddy act with the much-younger sassy judge.
During the interview, Simon also shot down rumors that Michael Bolton, “MC Hammer’s neighbor,” and “the former Pope” might fill Britney and L.A.’s open seats (side note: I think any of those three would be massive improvements, compared to last year’s panel). Rumors about the addition of Ne-Yo or the reinstatement of fired Season 1 judge Cheryl Cole (both of which I’d also totally co-sign) were frustratingly not addressed. But Simon did say, vaguely, that the show’s new judges “may be announced” as soon as “within a couple weeks.” So, there’s that.
I think all this Demi talk is very good news. The hiring of Demi—despite her tendency to drastically make over her protégés in the image of existing pop stars like Rihanna, Ke$ha, or herself, not to mention her constant (but somewhat justifiable) complaints about “being bored”—was one of the few things that actually went right for “The X Factor” last year. Demi was invested, engaged, and enthusiastic (unlike grumpy old L.A.), and she had, to use one of her own catchphrases, a sort of “sparkle in the eye” that viewers sadly never saw behind Britney’s glazed façade.
And did I mention that Demi earned only ONE-FIFTEENTH of Britney’s eight-figure salary? It’s time for Demi to ask for a raise, methinks, especially while Simon is in this good a mood.
Simon and Ryan in 2003 [photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage]But perhaps even more excitingly, during Ryan and Simon’s amusingly banter-filled radio chat, Ryan asked his old “Idol” co-star: “Would you allow me to guest-host one live episode of ‘The X Factor’? I kind of miss this.” To which Simon instantly said yes, of course, provided that Ryan would agree to sit in on “a minimum of three weeks’ rehearsal” and carry a Pepsi cup (as opposed to one branded with “Idol’s” soda sponsor, Coca-Cola) onstage. Seems reasonable enough to me.
I'd love to think that that discussion means Khloe really will be replaced, but considering her ties to the Seacrest empire, it's unlikely that Ryan would have anything to do with that. (Please note he didn't even bring up that gossip during his Simon interview.) Still, seeing Simon and Ryan back together on TV, even for one night only, would be good fun. And maybe Brian Dunkleman could even join them...
“X Factor” Season 3 auditions kick off Wednesday at Los Angeles’s Galen Center, while Ryan returns to his live “American Idol” hosting duties Wednesday night with "Idol" Season 12’s top 10 boys. Meanwhile, Demi continues to conquer the actual pop music world (unlike, say, any “X Factor USA” alum so far), with the release of her single and lyric video, “Heart Attack.”
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