After last night’s colossal two-and-a-half-hour live episode of The X Factor, judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and L.A. Reid took time out to speak with press on the X Factor stage. (Thankfully, there were no backup dancers.) EW also took time to talk with Simon about how he feels the show is doing so far this season, and what it’s like to be both a judge and the Man In Charge. On the second page, all four judges weigh in on their tough eliminations, their biggest competition, and what their take is on all the “squabbling” happening between them on air. (Paula spoke with EW at the end of the night, and so our interview was cut a bit short.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel the show’s been doing? You talked a big game as the show was beginning about wanting an audience number that the show hasn’t been able to reach yet.
SIMON COWELL: I mean, I opened my big mouth, basically, as usual, but I don’t regret it. What I was feeling at the time was, and I still feel it now, you want a show that’s going to go over 20 million. And you do everything you can to do it. In the real world, I’ve seen where all the other shows have done, where we’ve done — I’m feeling good about it. I’m feeling momentum. I know when it goes the other way, and that’s not a nice place to be.
This whole production — the futuristic set, the back-up dancers — is it coming together the way you wanted?
Well, the work that goes in to make a show like this, everything you just described — putting a new set in, lighting, record producers, artists — it’s like running an army. It’s never perfect. So we take tonight’s show, we look at it, it’s 30 to 40 percent improvement to be made for next week. And the next week you want to do the same thing again. I never sit back and think we’ve done it perfectly.
You’re definitely more engaged during the ad breaks than with Idol. Are you enjoying be so much more hands on?
It’s why I did this show in the U.K. when Idol was running. It’s very, very frustrating when you’re just sitting at a desk and judging. It’s not what I do. When I run a record company, I roll my sleeves up. So making a show, the fun is the producing. You have to be aware of what’s going on. I like it.