July 24, 2012 at 10:12 AM ET
Getting a celebrity judge to tell it like it is on a reality show is no easy task. But based on Simon Cowell's comments at the TV Critics Association press tour Monday, he's got two winners for "The X Factor" in Britney Spears and Demi Lovato.
Both songstresses joined Cowell and veteran judge L.A. Reid onstage, and the group were beamed in via satellite from Miami. Noted Cowell of his two new judges, "They are harder to please than me or L.A.," reported E! Online. "They are very happy, these two, in giving people a 'no.' That's why we hired them."
The fact that Spears can give people a hard time was evidenced by a recently-released show promo, and at the conference Cowell called Lovato "a brat." But, he added, "There's something really likeable about her as well. I think the show, because it has such a young audience, it needed someone younger."
Britney's reported acerbic side wasn't on display during the press conference, however. E! called her a "question-dodging softie" on Monday, and when she was asked whether reality competition shows are putting too much emphasis on judges, noted that she paused and said, "I think it's about the talent."
Lovato, meanwhile, reportedly held her own against tough questions. "The expertise I'm able to contribute is I'm listening to the radio right now, and I know a lot of what my friends like," she said. "We're in our early 20's and late teens and it's a really interesting thing when you bring a much younger demographic into the competition. I think we know what is needed in this industry, what is missing."
But the new additions weren't the only subjects Cowell touched on. First, he acknowledged Mariah Carey's new job as an "American Idol" judge, but didn't expect she'd be able to make the tough calls. "I think (Mariah) is going to find it difficult to say 'no,'" he said. "You've got to say 'no' to people. And she's sweet."
But back to "X-Factor." Cowell had his own tough words for departed judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger, according to Deadline.com, saying the loss of 14-year-old Rachel Crow was "the girls' fault, unfortunately," he said. "They could have saved (Crow). We do have an opportunity to save people like Rachel and unfortunately it didn't work that week. I don't think that will happen again. And Rachel, she's grown up on the back of it, she's having a great time, so there's no scars. But we're very careful who we screen at that age."
Crow signed on with Nickelodeon after she left "X-Factor."
And what about "X Factor's" new hosts, now that Steve Jones is no longer with the show? Earlier this year, Cowell told the media that he'd likely bring in two women to replace Jones, but on Monday he had a different idea: A male and female host. "Ideally we'd like someone who hasn't actually been a host before," he said. "(We) are screen-testing people for the next three or four weeks." The new hosts, said Deadline, will likely be announced in mid-August.
Are you interested in seeing Britney Spears and Demi Lovato get out their claws on "X Factor"? Sharpen your opinions with us on Facebook!
More in the Clicker: