Simon Cowell Picks Surprising (And Unsurprising) Talent for 'X Factor'

With the first auditions for Fox's The X Factor just 10 days away (March 27), Simon Cowell has revealed the first music biz star joining him at the judging table: Def Jam CEO L.A. Reid.

It's not a surprising choice. Among record executives and producers, Reid is about as influential as it gets. He's shepherded the careers of dozens of platinum-selling artists, including Pink, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Rihanna and Outkast. Short of Clive Davis (who's already involved with American Idol), few record execs are as qualified as Reid to recognize potential new superstars. He's the real deal, a proven commodity.

That leaves two spots left at the judging table, and Cowell seemingly intends to fill them with superstar artists. In interviews, he's already floated several intriguing options: Mariah Carey, Nicole Scherzinger, George Michael, Jessica Simpson and Cheryl Cole. And he's also hinted at a desire to reunite with his former Idol co-judge and (relatively playful) sparring partner, Paula Abdul.

As for the show's host, Cowell has made a more unexpected choice. According to, Cowell is seriously courting Enrique Iglesias for the job. This seems odd for a few reasons.

First of all, hosts are usually radio or TV personalities, like Ryan Seacrest on Idol or Carson Daly on NBC's upcoming singing competition, The Voice. Iglesias' name hardly jumps to mind as a host of anything, apart from his own concerts. To be fair, in 2007 he joined a growing list of musicians (including Josh Groban and Michael Buble) who've guest co-hosted on Live with Regis and Kelly. But that tiny gig doesn't seem like proper preparation for X Factor's spotlight.

Secondly, Iglesias just seems a little… wide of the mark. True, he just had a no. 1 single, "Tonight (I'm Loving You)," and he's a megastar throughout the world. But in the U.S., he never really got the traction of, say, Jennifer Lopez. X Factor needs some big star power if it's going to compete with Idol. Let's hope that the other, yet-to-be-named judges are going to provide it.

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