- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul are back together again.

Fox announced Sunday that the two former “American Idol” judges have reunited to assess singing talent on Cowell’s new television show “The X Factor.”

The competition debuts this fall. Besides Abdul and her longtime sparring partner Cowell, the judges include British pop star Cheryl Cole and Grammy-winning producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Abdul would be part of the panel, which taped its first judging session Sunday at the University of Southern California.

“This show would never have been the same without Paula and I can’t believe I am saying this _ I have missed her a lot, and I am thrilled she’s on the show,” Cowell said in a written statement.

“I am excited beyond words to be a part of `The X Factor,’” Abdul added. “I’m also delighted and grateful to be sitting next to Simon again … but you might want to check back with me in a week or two!”

The 48-year-old singer, dancer and choreographer reigned on “Idol” as the nice if sometimes dizzy-seeming judge who often clashed colorfully with Cowell in his role as resident bully. She left “Idol” in 2009, after eight seasons.

Announcement of Abdul’s involvement in the new show was held up as negotiations continued until the eve of the first taping, according to a person familiar with the talks. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because Fox and the show’s producers had not authorized public comment.

Representatives for Abdul did not respond to requests for comment.

Late Saturday, Fox confirmed that co-hosts of “The X Factor” will be Steve Jones and Nicole Scherzinger. Jones is a popular TV host in Britain. Scherzinger is a former member of the girl group the Pussycat Dolls who has appeared on the British version of “The X Factor.”

The competition is open to solo singers and vocal groups age 12 and up. The winner will get a $5 million record contract.

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AP Television Writer Frazier Moore contributed to this report.

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