Months of speculation as to whether Britney Spears would join Fox’s The X Factor as one of its new female judges can finally come to a close.
The official word finally arrived Monday at the Fox programming upfront held at New York's Beacon Theater. Spears, along with fellow pop star and tablemate Demi Lovato, who The Hollywood Reporter first reported was in the running, arrived onstage with creator Simon Cowell.
Sources tell THR that Spears' contract with the show is worth an estimated $15 million and that her fiancé and co-conservator Jason Trawick was deeply involved in the negotiations.
In early March, THR reported that Spears was close to a deal, but according to an insider, the negotiations were delayed for several reasons, chief among them: a request by the Spears camp to have edit approval and the issue of Spears' expenses. Seeing as the mother of two will need to travel all over the country and the world -- last year, Cowell staged part of the boot camp portion in France -- use of private jets and other luxury expenditures will come out of her pay, says a source.
Still, with the new deal, Spears tops former fellow Mickey Mouse Club member Christina Aguilera, who makes about $10 million for her participation in NBC's The Voice, and is in line with Howard Stern's pay on America's Got Talent, another Cowell production. Jennifer Lopez’s American Idol salary has increased from $15 million and now stands closer to $20 million, it's been widely reported.
Spears' price tag also drains the coffers for 18-year-old Lovato, who, another source tells THR, will be paid only about $1 million for her participation. (Worth noting: Lovato is scheduled to tour for some of the summer, when X Factor auditions are in fill swing.)
The two singers fill the spots vacated by Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger in a late-January bloodbath that also left host Steve Jones without a job.
Cowell, who also sits on the judges' panel and executive produces X Factor, has said that he’s looking for star power to attract viewers to the show’s sophomore season. He also said he’s looking for a competitive spirit, someone who understands the time needed to work with contestants and is willing to show their personality on TV. Apparently, Spears fit the bill.
While much has been said about the crowded field of talent competitions, especially with The Voice returning in the fall, Cowell might be mostly competing with his own expectations of how successful the show would be. Although it ranks among the 15 highest-rated series of the season, Cowell has been paying dearly for an early prediction that he expected the show to come in around 20 million viewers. It actually averaged about 12 million. Today, he seems confident in the changes he’s making.
"Sometimes you've gotta change things, and I think change is good," Cowell said moments before the big reveal Monday. He then appeared alongside Spears and Lovato and declared: "Well, we delivered. Rumors are one thing -- delivering is something else. I'm thrilled to be able to confirm the return of L.A. Reid, the addition of Demi Lovato and the superstar Britney Spears."
Said Spears, "I am so excited about this." Reid added that X Factor is now "the Rolls-Royce of television."
Within minutes, X Factor was trending worldwide.
Cowell added one last jab at his competition before exiting the stage, telling the gathered advertisers and members of the press: " We're going to seriously kick butt. ... I'm thrilled The Voice has decided to compete against us. I wish them the best of luck."
According to an insider, the vibe in the green room, where Spears and Lovato gathered before taking the stage, was "very happy -- everyone was in a good mood."
See a photo of the new panel that was tweeted moments before the announcement below: