It's official. Joining Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato as judges on season three of The X Factor U.S. will be singers Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio, Fox has announced.
Said Cowell in a statement: “It’s taken more than a decade but I’m delighted to finally be on a panel with three girls (I think!). Paulina and Kelly both have great taste and massive experience in the music industry and together with Demi, this is going to be a fun panel. It just feels like the time to do something different.”
The much rumored move is unsurprising, as Rowland previously served as a judge on the eighth season of The X Factor U.K. This wouldn’t be the first time Cowell has pulled talent from his series across the pond. In the first season of The X Factor U.S., Cowell had initially tapped Cheryl Cole to judge, though she was ultimately replaced by Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, who herself later moved across the pond to judge in the U.K.
“I am very excited to be reuniting with Simon Cowell," said Rowland, a member of '90s girl group Destiny's Child, which launched the career of Beyonce, and whose next solo album, Talk a Good Game, is scheduled for release on June 1. “It feels great to be able to take this journey here at home in the states!” As for Mexican singer-actress Rubio, who also hails from a teen group, she warned, "Simon, be careful what you wish for, let’s see if you are ready to handle me, empieza la fiesta, amigo!” (loose translation: the party begins, friend).
As The Hollywood Reporter previously reported, the plan was for the new panel to be in place by the time auditions kick off in Charleston, South Carolina, on Tuesday, May 21. There, the two ladies will fill the seats of departed judges Britney Spears and L.A. Reid, who both vacated their posts in 2012.
Auditions without the judges have already concluded in a handful of cities, including Denver and Los Angeles; an estimated 10,000 people attended open-call tryouts in L.A. on March 6.
Of course, singing competition spectators are also looking to see whether the franchise can break a successful act in the U.S., as it has in the U.K. with One Direction, Leona Lewis, Cher Lloyd and Olly Murs. So far, the show has released an album by one winner, season two country crooner Tate Stevens, while seemingly letting the contract of inaugural victor Melanie Amaro lapse. THR also hears that X Factor season one favorite Chris Rene is no longer on the Epic Records roster, though a rep for the label would not confirm.
Indeed, the pressure will be on the new panel to prove they can discover and properly nurture tomorrow's music star. No word yet on whether the prize money amount -- which had been a hefty $5 million -- will change.
Mario Lopez is set to return as series host, while former co-host Khloe Kardashian is out. It is not yet clear whether Lopez will host the show solo, or whether another co-host will be selected before the live broadcasts.