Simon Cowell to judge "X Factor", offers $5 million prize
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Simon Cowell said on Monday he would return to U.S. television as a judge on his upcoming "The X Factor" talent show -- where the winner will get a history-making $5 million dollar prize.
Cowell said he would be appearing as a judge on the U.S. version of the show when it starts on Fox in the fall of 2011, but declined to reveal the names of the other judges.
"Yes, I am," Cowell told reporters on a conference call about his plans to take a judging role on "The X Factor".
"People know what to expect when I am on the judging panels, so I don't think things are going to change," added the acerbic Briton, who found fame for his cutting remarks on singing contests "American Idol".
Cowell said the $5 million prize for the winner would be the "largest guaranteed prize in television history" and was intended to encourage singers and groups of all ages to audition.
The winner will sign a record deal with Cowell's company Syco in a joint venture with Sony Music. Costs of recording and marketing will be separate.
"This is a guaranteed $5 million, payable to the winner. It will be paid $1 million each year for five years.
"It is a massive, massive risk but it is also an incredible incentive. It puts everybody under an enormous amount of pressure. With pressure, you have got to find a star, but I believe I can find a star," Cowell said.
Cowell, who will also executive produce the format he created in Britain in 2004, said auditions would start in Los in Los Angeles on March 27 before moving on to Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York, New Jersey and Seattle.
The minimum age is 12, there is no upper age limit and the contest is open to individuals and groups. Auditions will be held in front of the judges and a live audience.
Cowell said it was impossible to predict whether the show would be as big a success in the United States as it has been in Britain, and the 15 nations where it gets No.1 ratings.
But he added: "All you can do is to give it a 110 percent effort and do everything to make it the best show you possibly can."
He said he was encouraged by the continuing success -- even without him -- of top-rated "American Idol", along with other TV formats like "America's Got Talent" and "Dancing with the Stars."
"People, thank god, still like these shows and that gives me more confidence when we launch ours," he said.
The biggest difference in the format of "The X Factor" is that the judges personally mentor contestants each week on song choice, arrangements, personal style and performance. This pits the judges against each other, as well as the contestants.
"It really does become incredibly competitive among the judges once the competition starts...I have to put people on this panel who I genuinely think can be better than me," he quipped.
"'X Factor' has a craziness about it, an unpredictability. It is more raw. It is more competitive," he said.
"If we can't, with what is on offer, find a global star, then I would say we have failed. There is that person or that group sitting in America waiting to be discovered," Cowell said.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Christine Kearney)
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