"The X Factor" judges are Britney Spears, left, Simon Cowell,… (Nino Munoz / Fox )
“The X Factor” versus “The Voice” — can the two play nice in the prime-time sandbox next week? Apparently not.
Simon Cowell seems to be rolling up the sleeves on that snug shirt of his — and he’s ready for battle. During a conference call — which also included new judge (and supplier of “Give Your Heart a Break,” a.k.a. that song stuck in your head) Demi Lovato — with reporters on Thursday, Cowell didn’t mince words when addressing NBC’s decision to add another night of “The Voice.” A move, announced earlier this week, that would pit the the peacock's reality darling against Cowell’s British import.
“I think this is the reason why NBC decided to put them up against us,” Cowell said, suggesting it was to draw attention away from “The X Factor’s” new lineup, which includes Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. “It’s a spoiling tactic,” he said. "It’s very simple: They don’t want people to see this first episode,” Cowell said. “I think it’s mean-spirited. And I hope and I pray that it backfires on them.”
Wait. He’s not done.
“I am pissed off about it because I think it’s kind of a gentlemen's agreement,” he added. “You have to rely [on the idea] that the viewers will make the right selection. I think three nights in a row is too much. I think there’ s a lot of interest because of Britney and Demi … I’ve learned: Don’t make any predictions.”
"The X Factor" makes its bow on Fox in two parts: on Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Meanwhile, Season 3 of "The Voice" will begin Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, all at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
“The Voice” producer Mark Burnett told TMZ earlier today that he was unaware of the beefed up presence “The Voice” is getting on NBC’s schedule. Insert Cowell’s signature eye roll.
“Give me a break,” Cowell said when asked if believed Burnett’s assertion. “Like I said, it’s tactical. They don’t want you to watch this show and I think it’s going to backfire.”
Going in, "The Voice" has the upper hand: Its last season averaged nearly 16 million viewers to "The X Factor's" 12.5 million.
But Cowell can't let that preoccupy him too much. There's other business to tend to — like figuring out who will serve as ringleader of the songfest following the exit of Steve Jones. Cowell said a decision is likely to come in "the next seven days."
Hosting skills are not necessarily required for candidates: "My gut feeling is we’ll probably go with a boy and a girl who haven't had any hosting experience." And it looks like he's gunning for a duo.
"There's so much talking on these shows now," Cowell said. "It's just too boring, as Ryan [Seacrest, host of 'American Idol'] demonstrated, for one person just to say everything. I think you have to mix it up a little bit."
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Follow Yvonne Villarreal on Twitter: @villarrealy
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