- - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cowell promises ‘bloodbath’ on next ‘X Factor’ season

With Melanie Amaro just crowned this season’s winner, auditions are already under way for next season’s “The X Factor” — and contestants and viewers should prepare themselves for possible changes.

“Can we make the show better? Yes. I will never ever go into anything going forward unless I can believe I can make it better,” Simon Cowell, the show’s producer and judge, told People on Thursday after Miss Amaro had won the $5 million recording contract. “Next year will be a bloodbath. We have to come out with something better than the rest, and that’s what we aim to do.”

While Mr. Cowell was mum on specifics, he said he plans to sit down back in the U.K. with the “X Factor” brain trust, which will also get input from sponsors and the Fox network before any decisions are made regarding the show in 2012.

There also has been some chatter from critics and fans about the show toning down the production numbers, which often distract with the multiple dancers, choirs, lighting and head-spinning backdrops.

A lot is up in the air regarding the talent, too. Will Steve Jones be back as host? Will L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger return as mentors and judges?

The only sure thing for the moment: Mentor and judge Paula Abdul told People she’ll be back, “unless something weird and bizarre happens.”

Mr. Reid also said he’s all set for another go around. “I would love to come back — what I don’t like is, I love it so much. I don’t control it, it’s up to the boss.”

Mr. Jones said he is also on board if asked to return.

So far, the lone judge ambivalent about returning is Miss Scherzinger, who said at a news conference Monday that she found the contestant elimination process emotionally trying and “something I could have never prepared for.”

NBA delivers ratings gift with Christmas Day games

The NBA returned Sunday to play its first games after ending the lockout, and delivered with ratings presents for TNT, ABC and ESPN, Entertainment Weekly reports.

TNT’s noon tipoff between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks averaged 5.9 million viewers and became the highest-rated Christmas Day NBA cable telecast ever.

A quadruple-header across ABC and ESPN also scored some of the highest regular-season audiences ever, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. ABC’s 2:30 p.m. tipoff between Miami and Dallas delivered a 5.6 overnight rating, making it the highest Christmas Day game at that hour on ABC since 2004. The 5:30 p.m. game between the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers nabbed a 6.5 overnight rating, making it ABC’s third-highest-rated NBA regular-season game ever.

ESPN scored its highest-rated Christmas Day game ever in prime time (2.3 overnight rating) with the L.A. Clippers vs. Golden State at 10:30 p.m.

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