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Cheryl confirmed to join Simon Cowell on US X Factor
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Cheryl Cole

Few US viewers are likely to know who she is and neither of her solo albums has ever been released in the country. But Simon Cowell’s media clout on both sides of the Atlantic means Cheryl Cole is likely to be heading for America next year to present a new version of The X Factor with him in a £3m deal.

Last week the 27-year-old’s ITV performance was carefully scrutinised by executives from the Fox television network who, it is understood, are “very likely” to sign up Cole at Cowell’s behest.

For Cowell, the move is part of the biggest gamble in his remarkably successful career. The music mogul this year quit the US talent show American Idol, which he turned into the No 1 show on American television, to concentrate on The X Factor.

Cole’s arrival in the US would also add to the growing number of British presenters fronting high-profile American light entertainment shows, many based on formats from British television.

Max Clifford, who acts as a spokesman for Cowell, said that people should “watch this space for developments”, adding that “lots of people are being considered” and that “Cheryl Cole is one of them”.

Others on the list are thought to include US singers Jermaine Jackson and Lionel Ritchie, according to US television sources.

Taking a job as judge on the show would mean an 11-hour, twice-weekly commute – as both Cowell and Cole will stay as judges on the UK version – but Cowell believes the journey is worth it to make sure The X Factor format that he owns triumphs over American Idol, which was devised by British friend and adversary Simon Fuller.

Source: The Guardian

“He thinks he just has to beat Simon Fuller. They have a love-hate relationship, which is about 90% hate,” said one TV insider.

Next year both Idol and The X Factor will appear on the Fox network. The risks, though, are considerable – not least because if The X Factor flops, then Fox may well drop the show and concentrate its efforts on Idol.

Cole is expected to keep her married name, amid concerns that it would be easy to Google references to Cheryl Tweedy’s 2003 nightclub assault on a black toilet attendant. While the singer was cleared of racially aggravated assault, there are fears the episode might play badly in the US.

At the same time, although Cowell is considered to be good box office in the US, Cole may simply be impossible for Americans to comprehend. Mark Borkowski, the PR guru, said: “The bigger risk is whether middle America is going to understand Cheryl Cole. I hope she is taking elocution lessons so that people in Vermont can understand what the hell she is saying.”

Nevertheless, the US networks are increasingly allowing British stars such as Piers Morgan, Cat Deeley and Vernon Kay to host flagship programmes, largely because the success of Cowell himself shows that the British accent is no longer just for aristocrats and villains.

ITV, meanwhile, will have to hope that its two stars can manage their new schedule – partly facilitated by using Cowell’s private jet. The proposed timetable will see Cowell and Cole filming live shows for ITV on Saturday and Sunday next year, before flying out on Sunday night to begin work in Los Angeles on Monday.

X Factor USA is expected to be filmed live on Tuesday and Wednesday. But ITV can take some consolation from the fact that Strictly Come Dancing judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli have set a precedent and already appear as judges on both BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing and its American equivalent Dancing with the Stars, which airs on the US network ABC.

The pair film the UK show on Saturday before jetting across the Atlantic on Sunday to film the US show the following day. They then return to the UK on Wednesday afternoon – a chore that Goodman has justified as “pure greed”. Earlier this year Goodman said: “I think, ‘Oh another few dollars coming into the coffers.’ Thursdays I sleep. I sleep like a baby. I get back Wednesdays about five o’clock, get home and then I doze in the chair watching bits and pieces on TV. I basically sleep then until Saturday as much as I can.”

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