Cheryl Cole Officially Joins 'X Factor' -- Is Paula Abdul Out?

Simon Cowell's co-judge on the Brit version of the show nabs the third judge's seat, leaving just one spot to fill

Another day, another name gets floated as a potential X Factor judge. British singer Cheryl Cole's name has been mentioned so many times, you might have thought she was already on board. (And she probably has been for weeks.) But today comes the announcement that Cole is actually, really, officially joining Simon Cowell and Antonio "L.A." Reid (former chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group) at the judging table -- leaving just one judging slot yet to be filled.

Naturally, Cowell has released a statement heaping praise on Cole, who served as a judge on the U.K. version of The X Factor, was a member of the Brit girl band Girls Aloud (which she joined after winning a TV reality competition) and a multiplatinum-selling solo artist.

"(Cheryl) is massively excited about this show and has been fantastic to work with," Cowell said. "She is also a complete brat! Most importantly, this girl can spot talent." Hmmm. A complete brat who can spot talent? Sounds like something he'd say about Paula Abdul.

Speaking of Abdul, what's the deal with her seat on the X Factor panel? Rumors of her involvement in this series have been swirling for over a year-and-a-half now. And Cowell himself has been saying for some time that he'd like his old Idol frenemy on a judging panel with him again. But with this official news about Cole, there's still no mention of a done deal with Abdul.

Sure, there's a lot of money involved, but how long does it really take to hammer out a deal? If Cowell's so fond of Abdul, why all the foot dragging?

One explanation: He's ladling out his picks as slowly as possible in order to build up excitement for the premiere. Another is that he's been trying to wrangle bigger stars first, and is using Abdul as a back up. In media reports, at least, there have certainly been a lot of stars considered for the job -- including Mariah Carey, George Michael, Jessica Simpson, Nicki Minaj and others.

But Cowell told Deadline that Abdul has always been a frontrunner. "I've been consistent about this," he said. "I don't know what it is about her, but I've always clicked with her. You just have to get that chemistry, and she's right. I've never found anyone better than her. I think there's a good chance it will be her. We've agreed that we would meet as many people as possible, and now we're reaching the deadline we've got to make the decision soon."

Yes, please, Simon. Soon would be good.

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