- - Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cowell wants women to fill ‘X Factor’ judging slots

Simon Cowell is playing it coy about rumors that Fergie, Britney Spears and Janet Jackson are being considered for “The X Factor.”

Two judges spots on the Fox TV singing contest opened up when Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger left after the first season. Mr. Cowell told a teleconference Wednesday that two women will replace them, but he declined to comment on who’s being considered.

“There’s been a load of speculation, some true, some not true,” Mr. Cowell said. He added that he waited to see who was interested enough to ask about joining the show before focusing on the search.

Judge Antonio “L.A.” Reid confirmed there had been discussions about adding Whitney Houston, but no contact was made with her. Houston died Feb. 11.

Meetings will be held over the next few weeks with “a number of people,” Mr. Cowell said, primarily to make it clear to contenders how much of a time commitment “The X Factor” represents.

He didn’t shed much light on the departures of Miss Abdul and Miss Scherzinger, saying only that shows evolve, and “this time it was decided to do it sooner or later.” He said the two have been “incredibly gracious and respectful” and he’s looking forward to working with them again.

With host Steve Jones’ exit, Mr. Cowell said he wants to switch to a two-host format that would better suit the show and the amount of information that needs to be explained, entertainingly, to viewers.

He’s not looking far for new judges and emcees, Mr. Cowell indicated, saying, “It’s important we have more Americans on the show.”

He was guarded about guessing the ratings for “The X Factor” when it returns this fall for its second season. After Mr. Cowell predicted it would be a hit in its freshman outing with 20 million viewers, the show averaged around 12 million weekly viewers, which is respectable but not a blockbuster.

“I should have kept my mouth shut,” Mr. Cowell said.

“I absolutely expect the second season to do better than the first season,” he said. “We’re not doing this to be second or third. … We’ve learned how to make the show better.”

Heavy D documentary to air on Centric TV

The story of late rap pioneer Heavy D will be chronicled in a documentary airing Sunday on Centric TV.

“Be Inspired: The Life of Heavy D” will feature interviews with the Jamaican-born rapper’s family and artists such as Will Smith, Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah, according to Centric TV, the 24-hour channel that is part of the BET Network.

Heavy D, whose given name was Dwight Myers, is considered one of the most influential rap artists of the late 1980s and early 1990s, both as the frontman for his group, Heavy D and the Boyz, and as a solo artist. He died in November at age 44 from a blood clot in his lung.

In addition to building his own successful music career, Heavy D was a big part of the careers of other black artists. He also was a record-label executive who hired Sean “Diddy” Combs as an intern and was producer to other rappers, such as Jay-Z.

His talents went beyond the studio to the theater and television. He appeared in “Law and Order,” “Boston Public” and other shows. He most recently played a courthouse guard in “Tower Heist.”

‘Kennedy Center Honors’ stays on CBS through 2018

CBS has reached an agreement to continue broadcasting the “Kennedy Center Honors” show from the District through 2018.

The agreement announced Thursday keeps the broadcast on the network where it debuted in 1978 and has been shown each year since. Every year, the president and first lady salute performing artists for their lifetime contributions to American culture.

In announcing the deal, CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves said the “Kennedy Center Honors” is one of the most prestigious broadcasts on television.

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said the show reaches millions of arts lovers each year.

The broadcast has won several Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award, among other honors.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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