L.A. Reid gears up for first live 'X Factor' episode
The cuts have been made, the groups have been chosen and it’s time to see who really has “The X Factor.” The competitors will take the stage for the reality series’ first live episode airing Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 8/7C on CTV. In advance of the two and a half hour episode, where five of the remaining 17 acts are set to be eliminated, judge L.A. Reid spoke to reporters in a recent conference call. Excerpts are below.
Q: On giving Chris Rene a shot:
L.A. Reid: You know Chris Rene has been one of the most popular contestants on this show thus far. So, the only thing that was difficult was the fact that my category had so many guys that I really liked and some really incredible talent, and just narrowing it down to four was a very tough thing. But Chris was always a standout from his very first audition and I’m really happy to have him.
Q: On Simon Cowell having an extra competitor on his team and how that will play into the season:
L.A. Reid: I’m not exactly sure (what the process is). This is sort of my first time at bat, my first barbecue, so I’m learning it as I go, but I was very happy though that Simon did go back and rethink Melanie (Amaro) from Miami. I thought she was really fantastic in the auditions. So, however it works out, I think so far it’s working out for the better.
Q: On how Simon initially said anything under 20 million viewers would be a disappointment and whether Reid was surprised that it hasn’t hit that point:
L.A. Reid: We have an average of over 12 million viewers so it’s a very successful show, and whether we hit 20 or not—you know, I’d like to hit 30. I mean, I’d like to sweep it, but that’s not really what is important to me. That’s a statement that Simon put out there and I think it was an aspirational statement and I hope that we can at some point get there, but I’m not disappointed that we’re not there.
Q: On whether he would have chosen the group of women differently than Simon Cowell did:
L.A. Reid: I have a very different taste than Simon, so I may have made some very different choices, but Simon is incredible and the most experienced guy at doing what we’re doing here with “The X Factor” and with talent competitions on television. So, I’m actually here to learn and watch and see exactly what Simon does.
Q: On how Simon places a lot of emphasis on spectacle and how Nicole Scherzinger chose to take Dexter Haygood over some of the other competitors in the over 30 category:
L. A. Reid: I like Dexter a lot, and I respect Nicole’s decision to put Dexter through. Dexter is clearly an artist, a performer, and in this case, a contestant who’s gone through some very, very tough times in his life, right? I don’t think it was so much a focus on spectacle. I think it was more believing in someone and giving someone an opportunity to rebound and to really get their life on track, because he’s clearly talented and yes, he’s a showman, but I don’t think it was a decision based on spectacle. I think it was based on opening a door and giving someone an opportunity to straighten up.
Q: On whether talent competitions like this will replace A&R departments at record companies:
L. A. Reid: The answer is that it’s an enhancement because it doesn’t replace A&R. If we look at the charts today, if we look at the most popular songs in the world today, you’ll see that they are largely made up of artists that are found through traditional sources, right? And yet, we do have some talent that is developed from TV reality contests, but for the most part, it hasn’t changed much.
The good news is that between “X Factor” and other talent competitions and things like YouTube, we now have more resources for talent, and as a record executive, what we’re looking for are more opportunities to discover talent. So, for us, it’s only an enhancement, but clearly not a replacement.
Q: On Drew Ryniewicz being a huge Justin Bieber fan and whether he might make an appearance on the show:
L. A. Reid: I love Drew. I have not spoken to Justin about Drew at all. I think she’s amazing. I think she’s really a contender here, a really competitive talent and Justin is a good sport and he takes it all in the right spirit. He doesn’t take it seriously when somebody says that they want to be better than him or beat him at what he does. He’s a good sport and he’s got a level head. He takes it all in fun.
Q: On how “The X Factor” will be able to translate the winner into a legitimate star in a way other reality singing competitions can’t:
L. A. Reid: Every time we sign a talent in the traditional world, it’s a roll of the dice. And if there were a crystal ball, then this would be a very simple job, but the fact is, it’s trial and error and it will continue to be trial and error. And yes, we will make every effort to turn some of these contestants into global stars, but no differently than our traditional world of records it’s going to be a crap shoot and we’ll see how it comes out. I’m hopeful. I do see talent that I think has the ability to go the distance, but it’s going to ultimately be up to the public as it always is.
Q: On each contestant having the potential to win:
L. A. Reid: I think that my guys are very unique. I think, as an example, Astro (Bradley) being a 15-year-old rapper who entered the competition doing original material, as far as I know, now I could be wrong, but I think that’s a very unique approach and it may be a first. So, I like his uniqueness. Phillip Lomax—for a guy to be 22 years old, and to have been so influenced by an era of Frank Sinatra and others, I find that pretty fascinating. So, I think he is a very unique guy and he has a great shot.
Marcus Canty is just a great singer… and ultimately I’m moved by talent and I really love his talent. And, Chris Rene, who is arguably the most popular contestant in the competition, is just really special and also entered the competition with original material and has this style that’s somewhere between singing and rapping. He’s just a really special guy and a really lovable guy with an interesting voice and an interesting story. So, I feel really good about the contestants and the guys in my category.
Now, I will say that there were people in other categories that I loved equally and, some of them I wish I had, I have to tell you.
Q: On how much the $5 million prize influences the final choices as they judge the talent:
L. A. Reid: It’s about the talent and the uniqueness of the talent, and their reach and their appeal and their ability to deliver material and to try to show some range and some diversity. That’s the first and most important thing, right? Yes, we talk about the prize, the $5 million, because it’s a lot of money. It’s probably the most money anybody has ever won on a talent competition such as this, so, yes, we put emphasis on it, but for me, the most important emphasis is actually the talent itself.
Q: On the popularity of the young rapper Brian (“Astro”) Bradley and whether he’s the real deal:
L. A. Reid: Well we really do have to see. He’s quite popular on YouTube and YouTube is a great indicator. He gets lots of hits. He’s probably a million-and-a-half hits or something like that. That’s nothing to sneeze at. So, he certainly has the ability to have popularity. But, again, we’ll do the best that we can. I really like him, by the way. I should say that even though I make comments that sort of go back and forth. Those are just me voicing my concerns. I would voice my concerns about a superstar. I voice my concerns to Mariah Carey about her life and her music, so me having concerns is not an indication that I don’t like or believe in a contestant or an artist, but ultimately, it’s going to be up to the public.