“The X Factor” U.S. held a screening event for its Season 2 premiere at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on September 11, 2012. (Fox will televise the Season 2 premiere on September 12, 2012, at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time.) Before the screening, the show’s four judges (Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, L.A. Reid and Demi Lovato) had their autographs and handprints immortalized in front of the theater. After the screening, which was open to the public, the judges went on stage to answer questions from fans on Twitter, Facebook and the audience at the theater. Here is what they said.
Why is there more behind-the-scenes footage this year in the “X Factor” audition episodes?
Cowell: I think we’ve been making these shows for 10 or 11 years, and I’ve seen them told in pretty much the same way. What I’ve always been fascinated by as a viewer s, “What would it be like to be a contestant on the show?” My gut feeling, which is what it was, was that there’s a lot of competitiveness, a lot of bitchiness behind the camera, which we never showed the audience before.
And right from the get-go, that wild monster who was so rude to Paige [Thomas, an “X Factor’ contestant], I found that one of the most fascinating things about a program that would allow you, the viewer, to see something we hadn’t seen before. And we deliberately didn’t have a voiceover or a narrative telling you how to feel. It told its own story. At times, it’s a documentary. It just made it a much more interesting show to make.
Do you think seeing the contestants’ backstage personalities will affect how you judge the ones who will go on to advance to the live episodes?
Lovato: I thought it was really interesting because … L.A., Britney and I hadn’t seen the episode at all, so this was our first time viewing it. And I was really excited to see that the people I really liked were nice. I think it shows in their faces and in their presence … I’m excited to see all the crazy drama.
Demi, if you auditioned for “The X Factor,” which song would you sing?
Lovato: That’s a tough question. I don’t know what I would sing. Maybe “Give Your Heart a Break.”
Simon, can you describe “The X Factor” in three words?
Cowell: Demi, Britney and L.A. — I’m going to add a fourth [word]: Simon.
L.A., who is the best “X Factor” judge and why?
Reid: You’re not going to like this but the best judge is Britney Spears. She’s a pleasant surprise.
Demi, what did you think when you found out that you were going to be a judge on “The X Factor”?
Lovato: When I found out that I was going to be a judge on “The X Factor,” it was really a long process, because there was all this waiting, and I didn’t know. And I didn’t want to celebrate until the contract was signed. But when I did get the phone call from my manager, I just set the phone down and I was like, “Oh my God.” It came at a perfect time in my life. My mind was blown. I’m just so honored.
Simon, did you know you were going to have the kind of relationship with Demi where you’d be insulting each other?
Cowell: When we first spoke on the phone about Demi coming on the show, she was really sweet. I thought, “She’s really nice and sweet and a lovely girl.” And then it all changed. It was quite a surprise.
If I’m comfortable with someone, it means I can argue with them and laugh. These girls [Lovato and Spears] give as good as they get. And that’s what we want. That’s why we wanted to hire them.
Britney, do you see yourself in any of the contestants?
Spears: I can relate to the contestants, definitely. I’ve been in this business since I was very young, so I know what that feels like to want something so bad and to have a dream and a passion for it. And that’s what makes the show really special.
Simon, if you weren’t famous, what would you like your profession to be?
Cowell: Most of my life I’ve spent behind the cameras. I ran a record label. I was 17 when I went into the music business. That was my day job. I was really, really happy doing that job. And I was offered TV shows, and I always used to turn them down because I thought the idea of being in front of the camera was horrendous. And then I did it — and I loved it! And I wouldn’t change anything else now. It’s a great job.
L.A., what’s it like with Demi and Simon fighting each other? Is it awkward for you?
Reid: It’s actually quite entertaining. It’s a sign of comfort. We have amazing chemistry, and we have a lot of fun. And, you know, Simon leaves himself wide open for people to go in and [he points at Cowell and makes a popping noise].
Do you take sides?
Reid: The beauty of what we do is that no one gives anyone advice. We all just jump right in the deep end.
Lovato: [She says jokingly] What you did say before I got to the stage was, “Simon is so much uglier in person. Try not to laugh at his face.” And I kept it inside.
Cowell: [He says jokingly] She looked at me in awe, and then she started to dribble out of the side of her mouth … [Lovato laughs.] We couldn’t show it on camera. She was very excited.
Simon, have you ever given a critique to someone and afterward you thought that it was a little too mean?
Cowell: Yeah. We don’t see the back stories. Sometimes you see them before they come on stage and they go, “My dog died yesterday. I’m going to sing in honor of Lassie.” And I have no idea. And they come on, they’re terrible, and I’m rude to them. And then I watch the show back, and they’re crying at the dog’s grave. So it does happen.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as an entertainer that you would tell “X Factor” contestants?
Spears: When you enjoy it, it shows.
Simon, which member of One Direction would make the best “X Factor” judge and why?
Cowell: I’d probably choose between Louis [Tomlinson] and Harry [Styles]. They’re the ones who probably talk more than the others. Demi would probably choose Niall [Horan].
Lovato: He’s funny, so yeah.
Cowell: I think we should arrange that all five of them should come on as a judge.
L.A., who was your mentor and who inspired you?
Reid: My inspiration right now is Simon [Cowell].
Cowell: I’m inspired by L.A.
Britney, which type of contestant do you tend to sympathize with the most?
Spears: I think the younger ones [because of ] their innocence, and they’re so new to the world. I sympathize with them a lot.
Demi, what was the weirdest thing that a contestant did at an audition?
Lovato: I don’t know the weirdest thing anyone has ever done, but I was actually very creeped out by [the contestant who sang] “Candy Man.” I had to take a second afterwards because he was singing to very young girls. It was so creepy. I had to go away for a second. It was so gross.
Cowell: Yeah, he was pretty creepy.
Britney, who has the best style: L.A. Reid or Simon Cowell?
Spears: I think they’re even.
Simon, what is your secret to success?
Cowell: I think it’s interesting that question came from Facebook, because now that we have Facebook and Twitter, we are making decisions on signing artists or making shows, I really do read and I absorb a lot of the stuff, and I make editorial decisions based on that now. So what happens to me in my job, when we watch the show, we have that [Twitter/Facebook feed] simultaneously, so we can see what’s on happening on Facebook and Twitter. And we make changes on the following week’s show based on that feedback.
So if you have a really strong opinion, and it becomes a consensus, we will often do what we read about. It’s the best time in the world right now. It’s unbelievable. It’s so quick and so direct.
Simon, is it possible for “The X Factor” to have a duet with One Direction and Demi Lovato?
Cowell: That’s one scary prospect. I’d like a Britney/Demi duet.
L.A., when you judge a contestant, are you looking purely at talent, or are you looking to see if that contestant can handle the pitfalls of the music business?
Reid: You can never anticipate someone being able to handle the pitfalls. It’s really tough to read that. But what I’m looking for is a lot like these ladies [Spears and Lovato] sitting to my left: I’m looking for the package. Yes, they can sing. Yes, they have great personalities. But it’s the entire package. And you recognize it the moment they walk into the door. The greatest example of stardom that I can tell you is Demi Lovato and Britney Spears.
For more info: “The X Factor” website
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