Pepsi to sponsor X Factor

THE COLA WARS GO PRIME TIME: PepsiCo, having passed on American Idol when it debuted a decade ago, will pony up more than $60 million to sponsor Simon Cowell’s X Factor when it debuts this fall, the L.A. Times reports. Last fall, Pepsi execs flew to London to personally pitch Cowell, who once appeared in a Coke commercial. "What made X Factor so special to us was Simon Cowell and his insight into what makes great television, and his ability to identify new talent," said Pepsi's Frank Cooper. "This is a great opportunity to go back into music in a much deeper way." In phone interview eth the Times, Cowell recalled his initial meeting with the Pepsi executives last year. "We just hit it off," he said. "I've always said that X Factor would be the next generation talent show. Pepsi was an automatic fit… I like working with hungry people." What's more, the story points out, the selection of Pepsi only serves to ratchet up the rivalry between Idol, backed by Coke, and X Factor, backed by Pepsi. "Bring it on," said Cowell. "I love it." (3/17a)