photo: FoxWell, it's almost spring, and it looks like Simon Cowell is doing some early spring cleaning over at "The X Factor USA." Following Monday afternoon's announcement, via Steve Jones's Twitter page, that the much-derided host will not be returning for Season 2, it has now been revealed that the equally controversial Nicole Scherzinger is out as well!
According to a report by E! Online, which was confirmed by Fox reps, Nicole is officially a one-season showpony. "She wants to focus on her music career," a source told E!'s Marc Malkin. "She's spoken to Simon and he's given her his blessing. 'X Factor' took a lot more of her time than she ever expected. She didn't have any time really to work on her music."
Much like Steve's departure, Nicole's exit is no huge surprise--and, as is with the case with Steve's departure, I believe it will ultimately be for the good of the show. Nicole was never a popular judge--and, since she was originally hired to be Steve's co-host before she made a last-minute move to the judges' table to replace ousted judge Cheryl Cole, she never really seemed comfortable in her judging/mentoring role. And she certainly didn't possess the steely nerves needed to handle live television--or the inevitable backlash that came her way.
Early in the season, Nicole received scorn from Simon and viewers alike for the silly, seemingly PCD-inspired routines she concocted for her protégés (putting scruffy rocker Josh Krajcik in a cage was a low point, for sure). And when her mousiness and indecisiveness on the top five results show led to a deadlock and the shocker elimination of young favorite Rachel Crow, she instantly became the most hated woman on television. The live studio audience booed her, her Facebook "fan" page and Twitter feed were inundated with hatemail and death threats...and by the season's end, Nicole was understandably refusing to confirm to the press that she'd be back for another season. I'm sure there are many viewers out there who are now relieved to hear that it's official that she won't be judging Season 2. (And I admit that I am one of those relieved viewers.)
So, with Nicole gone, "X Factor" fans have to wonder if this development will reopen the door for original judge Cheryl Cole, who in my opinion should have never been fired in the first place. However, that is probably unlikely, considering how badly Cheryl's pink-slipping was handled last year. But what about Rihanna, who was such a good advisor to L.A. Reid during the Judges' House rounds, and whose cute accent is arguably easier to understand than Cheryl's? Or Mariah Carey, who was supposed to participate in Season 1, and whom Simon has openly, almost aggressively courted? Or "X Factor U.K." star Leona Lewis? Or Robbie Williams? Or me? Let the speculation begin...
At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that L.A. Reid is leaving this show too. Regardless, "The X Factor USA" had staffing problems from the start, and if Simon wants this series to eventually be the 20-million-plus-viewers success he bragged it would be in Season 1, he'd better cast Season 2 very wisely.