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“I've never found anyone better than [Paula]. I think there's a good chance it will be her.”

COWELL ALL BUT CONFIRMS ABDUL AS X FACTOR JUDGE

Paula Will Join Simon, L.A. Reid and Cheryl Cole…Assuming He Can Work Out a Deal With His Longtime Idol Foil, Writes Nikki Finke
The news may not be official, but it’s from the horse’s mouse.

On Sunday, talking to Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke, Simon Cowell confirmed his desire to consummate that much-rumored reunion with fellow former American Idol judge Paula Abdul. Additionally, he strongly hinted that filling out the judge’s panel, along with Cowell and the previously announced L.A. Reid, will be U.K.singer Cheryl Cole, a virtual unknown in the U.S. who sits next to Cowell on the British X Factor panel.

The catch is that Cowell still doesn't have signed contracts with either of his choices, and hasn’t even begun negotiations yet with Abdul.

"I've always wanted Paula,” Cowell acknowledged to Finke. “Always been very vocal about that. I missed her the second she left the show. Always loved working with her, even though she can be a pain. And I've been consistent about this. I don’t know what it is about her, but I've always clicked with her. You just have to get that chemistry, and she's right. I've never found anyone better than her. I think there's a good chance it will be her. We've agreed that we would meet as many people as possible, and now we're reaching the deadline we've got to make the decision soon. But I think she's got a really good shot." 

Later on Sunday, New York magazine Vulture columnist Kyle Buchnanan posted a handy synopsis of Cowell’s revelations to Finke. “With no contemporary U.S. singers on its panel,” Buchanan wrote, “the proposed X Factor lineup would stand in stark contrast to both Idol and NBC's upcoming competition The Voice, which are filled with big names—some of whom, Cowell admits, he was pursuing for his own show. After he learned that Jennifer Lopez was meeting with Idol producers to potentially join that show, he immediately crossed her off his list; same with Cee Lo Green, whom Cowell met with but struck from the list when Green said he wanted to join The Voice (added Cowell, ‘And I already knew at that point that L.A. Reid was pretty much a done deal. So I just didn’t follow it up’; apparently, he'd reached his quota of bald black men in dark shades). As for discussions with Mariah Carey and Fergie, neither turned out to be available. For all his talk of finding big stars to join him on the panel, Cowell is now the sole superstar. Will it work?”

Finke’s column caused Showbiz 411’s Roger Friedman to point out that he’d broken the Abdul-to-X Factor news last August. “When X Factor was conceived for America,” Friedman wrote last night, “this much was already on the table. Simon and Paula’s reunion is the single biggest publicity hook that X Factor has when it makes its American debut… But here’s the reality: Cowell expected American Idol to tank in the ratings once he was gone. For a while, he was right. But then the drama of a couple of good contestants really helped. And Steven Tyler turned out to be enough of his own X factor that people have wanted to see what he’ll do each week. Jennifer Lopez—not a singer, but looking radiant every week, and expressing sympathy and encouragement to all players—is doing well. So Cowell needs his biggest gun. That’s Paula.”

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