Although an official announcement hasn't been made yet about who will be on "The X Factor" U.S. judging panel with Simon Cowell in 2013, insiders are saying that Grammy-winning country singer LeAnn Rimes could be back in discussions to be a judge on the show. If Rimes is hired, she would replace Britney Spears, who is expected to be fired from the show because Spears and her reported $15 million "X Factor" salary turned out be a waste after Spears polarized viewers, got mostly negative reviews from TV critics, and failed to increase ratings for the show.
In fact, ratings dropped 25 percent after Spears joined the show in 2012. According to Nielsen Media Research, ratings for "The X Factor" U.S. in 2011 were an average of 12 million U.S. viewers per episode, but those ratings decreased in 2012 to an average of 8 million U.S. viewers per episode.
Cowell and "X Factor" representatives refuse to comment for now on any changes that the show will have in 2013. However, if things go the way they went in 2012, announcements about who is getting fired should be made by late January or early February. And their replacements should be named by May.
Meanwhile, sources say that Grammy winner Jon Bon Jovi is not interested in replacing Antonio "L.A." Reid, who quit "The X Factor" U.S. judging panel in December 2012 at the end of the show's second season. Reid said the reason for his "X Factor" departure was he wanted to have more time to focus on his main job as chairman/CEO of Epic Records. Reid named Bon Jovi as the person he wanted to be his "X Factor" replacement.
According to multiple sources, Bon Jovi is not interested because the touring schedule with his band Bon Jovi conflicts with the time commitment to be an "X Factor" judge. There are also issues with salary, because even if Bon Jovi were available, "The X Factor" would probably not be able to meet his salary expectations.
Insiders have said that Fox renewed "The X Factor" U.S. for a third season on the condition that the show drastically reduce its spending. That means in 2013, there will be no more spending of $15 million on a judge's salary. Insiders say that the salary range for any new "X Factor" U.S. judge is expected to be between $1 million to $9 million for the year, depending on the level of fame and success of the new judge.
Sources also say that Cowell and other "X Factor" decision makers want to keep a balance of the sexes on the judging panel, so there will continue to be two male judges and two female judges on the show.
In February 2012, Rimes confirmed reports that she was in talks to become a judge on "The X Factor" U.S. when the show was looking to replace fired judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger. Spears and Demi Lovato ended up being hired as the replacements.
An insider says, "LeAnn really wanted the job, but once Britney became the frontrunner, LeAnn didn't have a chance. LeAnn will want another chance when there's an opening."
Rimes performed a controversial duet of "How Do I Live" with 13-year-old contestant Carly Rose Sonenclar on "The X Factor" U.S. Season 2 finale on December 19, 2012. Rimes got terrible reviews for her performance, and many viewers speculated that she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the duet, but Rimes denied those accusations. TMZ reported that Sonenclar's family blamed Rimes and her awkward duet with Sonenclar as the reason why Sonenclar lost the competition to winner Tate Stevens, a 37-year-old country singer. (Sonenclar came in second place. She and her family have not publicly stated that Rimes was the reason why she lost.)
Rimes is also controversial for her personal life: Many people have branded her a "homewrecker," since she and her second husband, actor Eddie Cibrian, got together by having an extramarital affair while they were married to their first spouses. (Cibrian and Rimes divorced their first spouses in 2010 and got married in 2011. Cibrian has two sons with his ex-wife, Brandi Glanville. Rimes and her first husband, Dean Sheremet, had no children during their marriage.)
The insider added of the Rimes/Sonenclar duet, "Believe it or not, Simon [Cowell] loved the controversy with LeAnn. It got more publicity for the show than Britney did in weeks. No one was really talking about what Britney did in the finale."
If Rimes becomes a serious contender to replace Spears, then it wouldn't be surprising. (And her salary would definitely be a lot lower than what the show paid Spears.) Cowell has said in multiple interviews that he likes working with female judges who are "controversial and a little crazy." And the fact that Rimes has been in rehab would not an issue, since Spears and Lovato have both spent time in rehab. If "The X Factor" U.S. hired people whose personal lives weren't in the tabloids, then none of the female judges or co-hosts Khloe Kardashian and Mario Lopez would have been hired.
The "X Factor" victory of country singer Stevens also indicates there is a large percentage of "X Factor" U.S. viewers who are fans of country music, a genre that Cowell has admitted that he personally doesn't know much about, but the voting numbers for Stevens should not be ignored. It's possible that Cowell and company may be rethinking the failed marketing strategy that the show had in 2012 to appeal to mostly teenage girls who like pop music.
Stevens' "X Factor" win is a wake-up call to Fox and the show's producers that "The X Factor" U.S. has a much older audience than they think it does, and many people in the audience are fans of country music. Hiring country singer Rimes as a judge wouldn't be too far-fetched if the show wants to appeal to that kind of audience, even if Rimes is a controversial celebrity.
Meanwhile, considering that "The X Factor" is not going to spending $10 million or more for any new judge's salary, that means a lot of A-list talent won't be serious contenders.
These female celebrities aren't likely to be contenders since they're either not interested, not available and/or are out of the price range that "The X Factor" is willing to spend:
- Katy Perry
- Dolly Parton
- Janet Jackson
- Lady Gaga
- Aretha Franklin
- Kelly Clarkson
- Shania Twain
- Celine Dion
- Gwen Stefani
- Queen Latifah
- Reba McEntire
As for who will replace Reid, it could be an artist, an independent music producer or a music executive, but the music executive would have to work for Sony Music, which is the record-company partner of "The X Factor." However, someone like Sony Music chief creative officer Clive Davis, as legendary as he is in the music business, would be considered too old for "The X Factor." (Davis is 80 years old.)
Someone like Sean "Diddy" Combs isn't likely either, since "The X Factor" wouldn't pay him what he would want, and he likes to be the star/executive of his own reality shows, not an employee. Two possible contenders to replace Reid could be music producers/songwriters Jermaine Dupri and Pharrell Williams, who both have experience as guest mentors on talent shows. But we'll have to wait and see who will replace Reid, since a frontrunner has not yet emerged.