Together Again

MANILA, Philippines -- It’s a modern-day tale of reality TV ‘romance.’ Well, not really…
But, indeed, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell are back in each other’s company—and, for the sake of good TV, on each other’s throats, hopefully—as reports surface that the former “American Idol” judges have re-joined forces to sit together in one judging panel.
Abdul joins the celebrity panel on Cowell’s U.S. version of the talent show “X Factor,” a deal that reportedly was “finalized in the eleventh hour before the auditions started,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The auditions for the competition apparently kicked off Sunday (Los Angeles time), with Grammy Award-winning record producer and songwriter Antonio “L.A.” Reid and U.K. pop star Cheryl Cole also on the judging panel.
To those still unclear as to what the “X Factor” is about, Cowell apparently addressed the audience at the audition, "The idea is we're trying to find a superstar. ... And you're (the audience) our fifth judge. Basically you're here to tell us who you like. You can be as badly behaved as you want, actually. The whole reason for doing this is I trust you guys for being able to judge this process. There's $5 million at stake."
Abdul, for her part, told Cowell, “I’m thrilled you invited me back.”
Of course, “AI” fans can still remember the love-hate relationship Abdul and Cowell shared on the old show, and with both leaving the “AI” panel one after the other, many feared it would be the beginning of the series’ downfall.
However, the new judging panel on “AI” proved to be a charm—with new TV darling Jennifer Lopez and viewer favorite Steven Tyler (Aerosmith vocalist) joining “dawg” Randy Jackson. “Idol” is currently enjoying resurgence in TV viewership and ratings.
Abdul reportedly left “Idol” two years ago after a contract dispute, and Cowell has made no secret about his desire to work with her again.  "This show would never have been the same without Paula, and I can't believe I am saying this -- I have missed her a lot," read Cowell’s statement on Sunday.
Prior to all this, The Hollywood Reporter wrote on May 8 that it was “unclear whether negotiations between the ex-‘American Idol’ judge and ‘X Factor’ producers would result in a signed contract before Abdul was scheduled to report for duty on Sunday.”  Apparently, talks were long due to Abdul’s other obligations stemming from her participation in the “short-lived” show “Live to Dance.” But all seemed to be rectified by now, with Abdul, “excited to sit next to Cowell,” she said at the auditions.
Such is the buzz generated by a show not even kicking off until months from now. “X Factor” is touted to premiere in the US in September, with hosts Steve Jones, a UK TV presenter, and ex-Pussycat Dolls member Nicole Scherzinger.

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