Simon Cowell has revealed that he wants Paula Abdul and Cheryl Cole to join L.A. Reid and himself as judges on the panel of the forthcoming American version of The X Factor. In an interview with Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke, Cowell confirmed that Abdul and Cole were his final selections for the panel, but neither has signed a contract yet.
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Cole – an English singer who is virtually unknown in the U.S. but famous in the U.K. as a member of the girl group Girls Aloud and judge for the British X Factor – is a risky bet for Cowell. Though there were rumors that Fox questioned Cowell's decision to bring her on, he says that the network in fact insisted upon her participation. "I showed a tape to [Fox executive] Mike Darnell two years ago of a clip I'd shot in England of Cheryl and he said there and then, 'I'd hire her now for Idol,'" Cowell told the Hollywood Reporter. "They absolutely fell in love with her. In a way, the deal, it was almost conditional on Cheryl having the gig. They were desperate for her."
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Cowell also told Finke that he wants Abdul to join the show because he feels that the two share a unique chemistry. "I missed her the second she left [American Idol]. Always loved working with her even though she can be a pain," he said. Negotiations with Abdul have not begun, but Cowell says that "she's got a really good shot" at joining the panel of judges by the time the show debuts in the fall.