By James Hibberd
February 22, 2012 at 10:18 PM EST
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Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid weighed in on X Factor‘s judge hunt, host plans and the death of Whitney Houston during a teleconference today with reporters.

On the search for a Steve Jones replacement, Cowell revealed he plans to hire two hosts, one male and one female. “I always wanted a boy and girl and I think that’s going to happen now.”

On whether Whitney Houston was under serious consideration for a judges slot: “We love Whitney and we would have certainly considered it,” L.A. Reid said. “But the truth is it never quite came to that. There was an entrance there, but we never actually had meetings about it. But, again, we’re both huge fans and we’re sad about the loss. But we didn’t really get that far.”

Asked if the show will pay tribute to Houston, Cowell noted that NBC’s The Voice and Fox’s American Idol will likely do that first, but added: “We’re going to continually pay tribute to Whitney Houston  … there probably won’t ever be a season where you won’t hear a Whitney song … she’s one of those rare artists whose songs are literally timeless … whether we ever find anybody as good as her, that’s a whole different ballgame. It’s going to be a different feeling when people come out and sing Whitney songs because she’s not around anymore.”

On his idea for a Super Bowl-style battle between finalists on The Voice, Idol and Factor, Cowell said, “I was disappointed with the reaction back from the other two shows. They bottled it. I like the idea of superfinals and I thought it was something different. We’re still up for it. Maybe we’ll just have to compete in the Grammys moving forward.”

On whether Factor will keep the sing-off that booted young Rachel Crow: “Essentially this sing-off was really intended to save somebody who should stay in the competition but just had a bad night. Unfortunately it didn’t work according to plan, especially with Rachel… I think it’s important we retain this because it adds a bit of drama to the results show — we call it the Jennifer Hudson Save — she would have remained on Idol, probably, had it been in place.”

On the potential judges names out there — like Britney Spears (and now LeAnn Rimes): “There’s a load of speculation, some true some not true… there are a lot more people have entered the frame this year. We waited to see who would contact us before we contacted people. We will meet a number of people over the next few weeks. But I can’t confirm or deny any of these rumors at the moment.”