British singer Cheryl Cole has been dropped as a judge on the upcoming U.S. version of Simon Cowell's talent contest "The X Factor," broadcaster Fox and Cowell's production company said on Monday.
The official announcement ended almost two weeks of rumor and speculation about problems with the line-up of the much-anticipated TV show, due to debut in the fall of 2011.
Cole, who had been Cowell's personal choice for the panel, will be replaced by singer Nicole Scherzinger, who was previously announced as the co-host of the show.
Monday's brief statement by Fox and Syco, was the first official comment on reports that Cole had been replaced following the filming of two audition episodes of "The X Factor" last month.
The statement gave no reasons for the change and did not address how producers would handle the sessions already shot with Cole on the judge's panel.
Cole, a singer with the group Girls Aloud, is a household name in Britain but unknown in the United States. Media reports have said she was dropped because of fears that U.S. viewers would have difficulty understanding her strong Northern English accent.
Reports from Britain over the weekend had said that Cowell was fighting to keep Cole on the show.
"The X Factor" is the highlight of Fox television's upcoming fall television schedule.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney)
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