Well, it's all over except for the official confirmation: Britney Spears, the reported $15 million judge and mentor on "X Factor" USA will not be returning for the third season of the show. TMZ posted Wednesday (Jan. 9) that Spears has decided to exit the show and concentrate on her music career.
TMZ cited "unimpeachable sources" as they broke the story that the "Toxic" singer wouldn't return to the "X Factor" judging panel. It was also noted that Spears was already hard at work on her new album, the eighth studio album of her career. She's working with Will.i.am and several producers, including Hit-Boy, the producer of the Jay-Z and Kanye West's "N*****s in Paris hit from their platinum-selling 2011 album Watch The Throne.
Spears had talked about recording in a succession of tweets on Dec. 30. She posted that she was "excited" about her new album and she was: "Working hard. Collaborating with some new inspiring producers. Really focused on my music right now."
News of Spears' departure follows several weeks of speculation about her future on the ratings-beleaguered show. "X Factor" creator, producer, and judge/mentor Simon Cowell had initially signed Spears on to the judges panel to bring in a younger demographic, hoping her star power would translate into higher ratings for the show. But Spears stiffness on camera, not to mention her seeming detachment from the proceedings as well as her reticence while critiquing, did not go over well and ratings were lower than for Season 1.
The National Enquirer reported in early December that sources were indicating Spears was fearful of being fired from the show, that she was confiding in colleague Demi Lovato that the producers were not pleased with her performance and wanted her to be more open on the show. Us Weekly reported in late December, just a week after the Season 2 finale, that producers were disappointed with Spears and that there were complaints about paying the "Hold It Against Me" singer $15 million "to say 'amazing' and offer half-claps." Sources also said that Cowell had "wanted crazy Britney, but he got boring Britney."
So Spears' quitting could just be saving face, staying one step ahead of the firing ax...
The producers and editors at first attempted to establish Spears as the female Simon of the show. She and Simon Cowell even made several appearances, including late night talk shows and The Ellen Degeneres Show, where she was touted as honest, firm, and quick to say "no." But all the editing in the world couldn't hide the fact that Spears was no Simon Cowell.
Still, Spears' category, The Teens, did well in the competition. She placed five contestants in the Top 12, two in the Top 5, and saw protege Carly Rose Sonenclar finish runner-up to winner Tate Stevens, who was mentored by Judge L. A. Reid.
Oddly enough, if the Spears news is confirmed, the winning and runner-up mentors will not be on the show for Season 3. Reid announced his departure a week before the season finale.
If there is a second exit, it will provide the second season that "X Factor" has lost two judges. Shortly after Season 1 concluded, Cowell fired judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger from the panel. (He also fired Steve Jones, the show's host.)
So where does the show go from here? There have been rumors that Simon was courting Rihanna to do one of the "X Factor" programs (the UK version also needs a replacement judge). When asked who he'd like to see take his seat, Reid offered up Jon Bon Jovi.
And that suggestion should have been obvious. Reid and Tate Stevens decided on three Bon Jovi songs to perform on the Stevens road to victory in Season 2.