Simon Cowell arrived in style for last night's screening of his new TV show, The X Factor, stepping out of his custom-built black Rolls-Royce to greet screaming fans at LA's ArcLight theater. He was the last judge to arrive on the red carpet and promptly received a kiss from his good friend Paula Abdul. X Factor reunites former American Idol judges Simon and Paula and introduces new faces L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger and super-hot host Steve Jones, who's well known in the UK as a presenter. We were on hand for last night's exclusive screening of the first two episodes, which begin Sept. 21, and were happy to see Paula and Simon's infamous chemistry back in full force. L.A. adds his producing and songwriting expertise to the judging panel, while Nicole has a fresh point of view due to her years of touring the globe as a solo artist and with The Pussycat Dolls. Following the screening, the judges answered questions from fans, and according to Simon, he's finally "met his match" in fellow judge L.A. Here's more:
- Simon on comparing the US to UK audiences: "They [the US] have an amazing musical knowledge . . . they were very tough on us at times when we didn't love somebody. I thought there were moments when we were going to get mauled when the audience disagreed with us. The American audience is tougher than the UK audience."
- Steve on hanging backstage with contestants: "[One contestant] said I wear too much makeup and I'm nothing but a stretched Ryan Seacrest. And I was like, [sarcasm] 'Well, best of luck with your audition.'"
- Paula on changing the lives of contestants: "It's an overwhelming feeling, it's a blessing to see and to feel what other people feel when they're getting that moment. It's awe inspiring. Don't take it for granted."
- On major arguments over contestants:
Simon: "I'm going to let you in on a little secret: when certain girls came to audition, if they were too attractive they were known as DOA, in other words dead on arrival, and from that, Nicole was christened Sylvester, from Sylvester the Cat, and Paula became Tom, from Tom and Jerry. So we had to fight, me and L.A., to keep the attractive girls in the competition because Sylvester and Tom didn't want them in the competition and that's where, true story, most of the arguments came from. L.A., will you back me up on that?"
L.A.: "True story."
- Simon on what the "X Factor" is: "When someone is brilliant it's a no-brainer. Where it got tricky, as I said before, when other factors came into play, and that's where you needed myself and L.A. Reid to be fair and balanced. I got things back on track, but that's pretty much the only time we argued."
- Simon on expanding the age range of contestants: "[Joking with Paula] This show is all about giving older women a second chance."