July 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM ET
Simon Cowell is shaking up more than just his judging panel for season three of Fox’s “X Factor.”
For starters, audiences are now forbidden to boo contestants they don’t like. And those over-the-top sob stories about singers who were bullied, homeless or stricken with disease that tug at the heartstrings?
“I’m over that,” the show’s creator, judge and executive producer revealed in between live auditions in Los Angeles on Thursday. “No way!”
“There are lot of the things we did last year we can’t do anymore,” Cowell admitted. “Even the word 'mentor.' You know? Every show now has the bloody word 'mentor.' "
Going forward, Cowell said he and his three celebrity panelists -- Demi Lovato, Paulina Rubio and Kelly Rowland -- will act as “partners” for the show’s wannabe pop stars.
“It is not all about me choosing the songs (anymore),” he said. “I am thinking more like a record-company boss than a TV judge.” But Cowell, 53, must also think like a business person.
“X Factor” -- which discovered the wildly popular One Direction on the UK version of the competition -- hasn't quite generated the same kind of excitement and ratings in the U.S. Last season’s audience shrunk almost 20 percent from the year before, even after Fox coughed up a reported $15 million for pop princess Britney Spears to join the panel.
This time around, Cowell is making an all-in bet that the chemistry of his new panel will attract more viewers and help ensure survival of the franchise.
“I think we have learned from other shows that you can’t have a panel if they start hating each other's guts. It is so uncomfortable," he said. "So getting the casting right on this was key.”