Photo Credit: FOX
If you were wondering how Simon Cowell's new talent competition, The X Factor, could ever compete with American Idol, here's a start: The winner will get the biggest prize in reality TV history. Yes, one of the dozen singers or groups selected to compete on The X Factor will walk away with a $5 million record deal -- which is five times better than the $1 million record deal offered to Idol winners!
Cowell originally created The X Factor in the U.K. in 2004 as a replacement for Pop Idol, the original British version of American Idol. The show is still huge in England and has even created one international pop star, Leona Lewis. Now Americans will get to see what all the fuss is about, and get to see the erstwhile Idol judge talking trash in primetime once again (he just confirmed he'll be a judge on the show). X Factor and Idol have the same basic ingredients -- singing competition, live TV, audience voting -- but there are a few key differences.
First, The X Factor has no upper age limit for adults and allows kids as young as 12 to compete. "I've never believed there should be a cut-off age for talent," says Cowell.
Second, singing groups can compete alongside solo artists on The X Factor.
Third, once the final 12 X Factor contestants are chosen (via a process called "boot camp"), they all move into the same house, where the cameras continue to roll -- kind of like The Real World or Big Brother, but with talented people (zing!).
So why the big prize for the American X Factor? Cowell says that he's confident a big star will emerge from season 1.
"We are going to put our money where our mouths are with this $5 million recording contract," says the judge and producer. "I'm doing this show in America because I genuinely believe we can find a superstar."
The premiere date hasn't been announced, but auditions start in L.A. on March 27th, and are planned for Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York/New Jersey and Seattle.
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