"X Factor" insiders have told me that Britney Spears has been fired from "The X Factor" U.S., but it hasn't been officially announced yet. However, just as I predicted, there would be a "damage control" story in the media, with the story claiming that Spears has quit the show. On January 9, 2013, TMZ reported this "Spears quits" story by quoting an unidentified person who says that she's quitting because she'll be busy working on a new album and a possible tour. In my opinion, this TMZ story sounds like it was planted by Spears' handlers.
And here's why it's a bogus story: Anyone who's been in the entertainment industry long enough knows that when someone as famous as Spears quits a TV show, she is going to be the first to announce it. (Spears hasn't done that.) But when a star is fired from a TV show and wants to try and minimize the embarrassment, stories are planted in the media about the star quitting.
The Hollywood Reporter also confirms that Spears has essentially been fired by reporting: "Although no official word has been handed down by execs to the talent (creator Simon Cowell, for one, is still on holiday somewhere off the coast of St. Barts), an 'X Factor' insider says the writing was on the wall -- Spears was not going to be asked back and so she will not return for season three."
For now, "The X Factor" U.S., Fox (the show's U.S. network), Spears and her representatives haven't made any official comments about whether or not Spears is coming back to the show in 2013 or any changes that are going to be made on the show. Spears did a Twitter chat with fans in late December 2012, after reports surfaced that she was getting fired, and she was asked if she will continue to be an "X Factor" judge in 2013, but she avoided answering the question directly by saying she was "focusing my music." Someone who is quitting a show would not avoid a question like that and would make it clear that he or she was quitting, not getting fired.
It's a big contrast to what Spears told reporters an "X Factor" U.S. party in November 2012, when she said that she would "definitely" be back as a judge on the show in 2013. It sounds like Spears wanted her contract to be renewed, but that's clearly not what "The X Factor" U.S. wants. If the show really wanted her back, then "The X Factor" executive producer Simon Cowell would be one of the first people bragging about her contract being renewed, but he refused to comment when the media asked him if Spears is coming back to the show in 2013.
L.A. Reid quit "The X Factor" U.S. in December 2012 by making the first announcement about it himself. The show later confirmed that he quit.
For now, Cowell is the only judge on the show who is confirmed to return in 2013. Demi Lovato (judge) is rumored to be on the chopping block, while insiders have told me that Khloe Kardashian (co-host) is definitely getting fired. Lovato and Spears joined "The X Factor" U.S. in May 2012, as replacements for fired judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul.
Sources have also told me that Mario Lopez (co-host) may or may not return to the show in 2013. It's going to depend largely on if "The X Factor" U.S. wants to have a host only for its live episodes or for the entire season. Lopez and Kardashian (who both replaced fired host Steve Jones) only did the live episodes in 2012, while Jones hosted the show's entire season in 2011. Lopez's weekday work schedule for "Extra" (another show he co-hosts) could be problematic for him to attend the prerecorded episodes that feature the auditions, boot camp and the "judges' houses" phases of the competition, since those phases of the competition take place in various cities.
An unnamed source told TMZ: "Britney loves Simon, she likes Demi Lovato but her thing is music."
There are plenty of "X Factor" artist judges around the world who juggle new albums and tours in the same year that they're a judge on the show, so it can be done if people really want to make room in their schedule for it.
When Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Abdul and Cowell quit "American Idol," they were the first to announce it to the public, and the story didn't come from an anonymous source quoted on a tabloid website. The TMZ story doesn't mention that even though Spears was paid a reported $15 million for "The X Factor" U.S., she got bad reviews and failed to increase ratings for the show, which are reasons enough for her to get fired. The media outlets that don't mention these unpleasant facts about Spears' disastrous "X Factor" stint usually have an agenda to get future access to Spears for possible interviews, and so they are spinning a false and distorted story that makes it sound like Spears quit the show.
On January 9, 2013, Fox president of entertainment Kevin Reilly was asked at a Television Critics Association press conference in Pasadena, California, if Spears is still going to be an "X Factor" judge. He replied, "For next year, I don't know ... [Simon] Cowell hasn't talked about any of this going forward." As for how Spears did as an "X Factor" judge in 2012, Reilly commented: "I actually thought it went very, very well. It was fraught with unknowns. I think Britney did a really good job. She came on, people remain fascinated by her and always will be. People got to know her a little bit, maybe some people were waiting for more drastic displays of some nature that never came … She tucked in really nicely on that bench."
"The X Factor" U.S. might try to be diplomatic when the official announcement is made about Spears no longer being an "X Factor" judge by using the terms "contract was not renewed" or "the show decided to go in a different direction" or that Spears is "leaving the show to pursue other interests." This is just a corporate way of saying that someone has been fired. And make no mistake: Spears has been fired from "The X Factor."
It all comes to down to ratings and money: Spears was reportedly paid $15 million to be a judge on "The X Factor" U.S., and she was hired for one reason only: to increase ratings for the show. When ratings dropped 25 percent after Spears joined the show (according to the Nielsen Company), and she got mostly negative reviews, that $15 million salary turned out to be waste. Since Spears wasn't about to take a salary reduction and because Fox ordered "The X Factor" U.S. to drastically reduce expenses in 2013, it's no surprise that Spears got fired.
It's only a matter of time before her "X Factor" exit is officially announced.
January 11, 2013 update: Spears has not only announced that she is leaving "The X Factor" but also that she and fiancé Jason Trawick have split up. Click here for more details.