Cowell Reid
Credit: Ian Derry/Fox; Kevin Mazur/
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On the heels of today’s announcement that music mogul Antonio “L.A.” Reid has signed on as a judge on the U.S. version of Fox’s upcoming talent-show series The X Factor, the show’s creator/star Simon Cowell is talking about how the high-profile hiring came about. “Taking it back to basics, since we were making the point that the whole idea of the show is that we’re trying to find a star, my first thought was, I’ve got to have the No. 1 hit maker in the world on the show,” Cowell tells EW. “And L.A. was the obvious choice. This went to the wire, to be honest with you, because Universal were keen to keep him. But once he’d made up his mind he wanted to be on the show, then it all happened quite quickly in the last week.”

Cowell also let slip that one (and perhaps two) of the show’s female judges could be announced on Monday. “Right now, there’s one person who we have a financial deal with, but now we have some issues over their dates,” he says. While talking about the vibe of The X Factor, he interestingly brought up his former American Idol table-mate Paula Abdul. “I’m not saying that Paula’s definitely got the gig, because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says, “but part of the fun of Idol when it first started was that it didn’t take itself too seriously.”

And of course, we couldn’t let Cowell go without asking if he’s experienced the ear-splitting web sensation that is the video for Rebecca Black’s much-derided “Friday.” Thankfully, he has. “Love it!” says Cowell, who, it should be noted, made a career out of releasing novelty singles by the likes of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the ’90s. “I’ve never seen anything cause so much controversy. I think it’s genius. The fact that everyone’s getting upset about it is hysterical. Any song to do with the weekend annoys you. It reminds me of ‘Saturday Night,’ do you remember that [1994] song by Whigfield? It’s what we call a ‘hair-dryer song,’ a song girls sing into their hair dryers as they’re getting ready to go out. But the fact that it’s making people so angry is brilliant.”

Check back at next week for more of our interview with Cowell.

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