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Fox Executive Talks X Factor Firings, American Idol Ratings

February 7, 2012 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Fox’s president of alternative entertainment recently spoke about the shake-up on The X Factor that saw Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones cut loose from the show. Mike Darnell told EW.com that the first season of the show got them a star and the rest didn’t make the cut.

“Season 1 was basically an audition act,” he said. “Simon got one big new star out of it — L.A. Reid, and that was great casting. There’s going to be a natural reassessment…Paula was an interesting call. She and Simon are great friends, so it was just a dynamic conversation about what’s the nature of the group going to be. And I think we decided to pull the Band-Aid off as quickly as possible.”

Darnell added that tinkering with the dynamic won’t stop, saying, “There definitely will be lots of different changes in the show.”

Darnell also talked about the recent ratings drop from American Idol, attributing it to singing competition overload. “There’s no question there’s a glut of [singing competition shows that are] affecting the numbers for Idol,” he said. “It’s the granddaddy, it’s run is unprecedented. I think that considering all the other shows and its age, it’s doing quite well. Having both shows on our air has put us in an incredibly strong position as a network.”

He added, “It would be nice to reign forever as No. 1. But if Idol ever becomes a second- or third-place show, it still has a much bigger impact and value than most other shows because it accounts for so many more hours. Obviously all shows come down, but to still be at this level is amazing, and we’re really grateful for that.”

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Jeremy Thomas

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