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Simon Cowell says Cheryl Cole is "one of [his] closest friends."

This may come as a surprise, considering the pop singer was just let go from her judging gig on The X-Factor, but Cowell says the move was made with Cole's well-being in mind.

“Not many people will believe that, but that’s the truth,” Cowell told The Associated Press today. “She was good on the American show, [but] I personally thought she was missing her family and friends. She just looked... not as happy as I’ve seen her on previous shows.”

At X-Factor Auditions

Now, Cole is off both versions of the competition. Simon says the plan was to keep her on the British version, but then word of her American firing got out and "things went south... fast."

Has he spoken to her since the debacle? Yes, via text message.

“She told me she wasn’t happy but that she also accepted it was a business decision and she wished the show well. Typically, in Cheryl form, she was disappointed but charming at the same time.

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With its full cast of judges and hosts assembled, The X-Factor has released its first, official, extended promo.

In the video below, Simon Cowell hypes the largest prize ever handed out for a reality show ($5 million!), while the names and images of the stars associated with the competition flash across the screen: Cheryl Cole! Nicole Scherzinger! Paula Abdul!

Will you be tuning in this fall? The X-Factor will air twice per week on Fox, American Idol-style, with a performance show and a results show. Check out the 90-second trailer now:

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Nicki Minaj is out. Might Nicole Scherzinger be in?

The hip hop star will not judge The X-Factor, but Simon Cowell himself sounds very close to naming the former Pussycat Doll as the second judge on his upcoming singing competition.

"I want her to do it, but we've got to get the deal done and find someone she has chemistry with," Cowell tells TV Guide. "I absolutely adore her. She was fantastic on the U.K. X Factor and I'm hopeful it will happen."

Former Pussycat Doll

Cowell says Cheryl Cole is in the mix and also explains his connection to L.A. Reid, who has been confirmed for the panel.

"I met him approximately fifteen years ago when he'd launched Pink for the first time. He put on a show and got every single person in the room to believe this person was a star. The way he presented her with his passion drew me to him and was a big part of why I chose him to be on the show. A "yes" or "no" from L.A. Reid should really mean something to the contestants."

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She's been mocked endlessly on the Internet, but Rebecca Black has a major fan in... Simon Cowell?!?

Yes, the formerly harsh American Idol judge and world famous record producer says he's a big fan of this 13-year old, who has endured one hateful comment after another from anyone who has listened to the single "Friday."

"I love her [and] the fact that she's gotten so much publicity," Cowell tells People. "People are so upset about the song, but I think it's hysterical... I want to meet her. Anyone who can create this much controversy within a week, I want to meet. I love people like that."

Simon has other business on the mind these days, too: he's bringing The X Factor to Fox in the fall and will soon be announcing stars to join L.A. Reid on the judges' table.

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Might Simon Cowell have discovered the female version of Justin Bieber?

While the music mogul typically uses his reality show forums to find the next big superstar - coming this fall, X Factor! - he was reportedly so impressed with a 10-year old named Heather Russell that he offered her a contract solely based on a couple YouTube videos.

"Simon just loved her," said a source at Cowell's record label. "He said she was amazingly-talented from the first time he saw her."

Russell hails from Canada and writes her own songs. Listen to one here:

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It won't premiere until the fall, but Fox is already starting to push The X Factor.

A commercial aired for the upcoming competition during Super Bowl XLV, and producer Simon Cowell took part in a conference call with reporters yesterday, talking to us about the show's massive grand prize, among other topics.

On the $5 million prize: "The money rightly puts an enormous amount of pressure on people... it's a massive, massive risk. But it's also an incredible incentive."

Might Paula Abdul judge? "I'm a massive fan of Paula's. When you work with somebody as long as I did with Paula... we were friends 80 percent of the time and interestingly, we've been in contact (after 'Idol'). I'm not going to say on this call who we are going to confirm or not confirm, but we're talking to a number of people."

Continue Reading...

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Simon Cowell is not exactly a man who specializes in subtlety.

The former American Idol judge returned to the airways during Super Bowl XLV with a commercial that didn't merely announce, "He's Back." It did so in grand, god-like fashion.

Cowell then revealed plans to award the winner of this fall's The X Factor with the biggest cash prize in reality show history: $5 million.

Speaking on the difference between The X Factor and Idol, Simon said in a statement today:

“I like the idea that a 12-year-old on this show can compete with an older singer and a singing group. I’ve never believed there should be a cut-off age for talent, and we are going to put our money where our mouths are with the $5 million recording contract. I’m doing this show in America because I genuinely believe we can find a superstar.”

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The Hoff is taking off.

David Hasselhoff, who was let go from America's Got Talent last season in favor of Howie Mandell, has signed on to replace Simon Cowell on the British version of this reality competition.

"David is super excited about the move [to England]," an insider tells Pop Eater. "He's in London over the holidays going theater and looking at apartments for when he moves full-time early next year."

It's the Hoff!

Things are looking good for Hasselhoff these days, as his family's reality show premiered on A&E last week.

"It's a brand-new start for David and he couldn't be more exited," says a friend. "His new reality show is bound to be a hit and now he is returning to TV in the show that found Susan Boyle. What could be bigger than that?"

Nothing. Absolutely nothing could be bigger than that.

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He's already a reality show judge and record producer. But Simon Cowell is looking to add another title to his resume: wedding planner.

Speaking to Extra, Cowell offered up an idea for who should sing at the royal nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

"Susan Boyle would be perfect," said the former American Idol panelist, adding that Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" would be the ideal wedding song for the pair.

  • SuBo with Flowers
  • Greeting the Public

As the world knows by now, William and Kate got engaged last month and have scheduled their exchanging of vows to take place at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. Billions are expected to watch on television.

Would Boyle be able to handle that pressure? Do you think she'd made a good choice to sing at the reception?

 

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We already know Robert Pattinson can act, and look extremely handsome.

But did you know the Twilight Saga star can also sing? It's true, but if Pattinson is ever going to release an album, he recently said it would not be under Simon Cowell's guidance.

Robert P. Pic

"He is a clever guy, and he's created artists that he knows the public will like," E! News quotes Rob as saying to Great Britain's The Sun, an unreliable source. "That's why I don't think he could ever launch my music career."

In other words: the man who made Edward Cullen come to life doesn't think his music would catch on.

"I don't think many other people would like it," he says. "I see myself playing in a rundown blues bar, with about three people drowning their sorrows. I play according to my mood, and sometimes that can come across as very depressing in music."

** UPDATE: Rob's manager says this story is untrue, labeling it as just "another headline generated by the Internet."

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