Fox's "The X Factor" has altered its grand prize. The winner receives $5 million in cash in addition to a Syco/Sony Music recording contract rather than a deal worth $5 million, judge and show producer Simon Cowell said Friday during a satellite interview.
"The $5 million is guaranteed (cash)," Cowell said, addressing the Television Critics Association gathering in Los Angeles from his home in Judge Hertfordshire, England. "If I didn't think we couldn't find someone worth $5 million in America we wouldn't have made the show in America."
Fox released the singing competition show's schedule Friday, having locked in the finale for Dec. 21 and 22. The show's two-part premiere is Sept. 21 and 22, though the first live competition does not take place until Nov. 2. The finalists will be revealed Oct. 25 in a 2-1/2-hour edition of the show.
"X Factor" judges L.A. Reid, Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger, along with the show's executive producers and Fox alternative entertainment president Mike Darnell spent much of their time on the dais attempting to explain the differences between "X Factor" and "American Idol," not to mention NBC's "The Voice."
They emphasized the age range - 12 and up with no limit - and the breakdown into four categories - females, males, groups and older performers. Darnell said "X Factor" would be more performance driven and more variety driven due to the presence of a live audience; behind-the scenes segments will be emphasized as well. "There's a little bit of pixie dust," he said. "When you watch the show it will feel very different."
Reid, recently installed as CEO and president of Sony Music's Epic Records, said he had seen more auditions so far than he would in two years as a label executive, and the judges agreed they had seen several performers in each category that could win.
"It's grand scale, a epic feeling," Abdul said, distinguishing between the two shows. "I've never witnessed so much talent. In each of the four categories there are stars that are going to emerge. The whole next phase of the mentoring is going to be extremely intense."
Cowell said he did not want to give away too many elements of the show, but noted that "well-known artists" would have guest roles and that he was talking to Mariah Carey about appearing. "I am hoping Mariah will be involved," he said before smirking and proffering "she selfishly got pregnant and didn't wind up as a judge."