Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The "X Factor"

The morning after "The X Factor's" American premiere last month, Simon Cowell got a call from his agent at Creative Artists Agency.

The ratings were nowhere near the monster hit Cowell himself had predicted, but the agent believed that if the 12 million or so people who turned up for the premiere kept tuning in, the show would be fine. "But if you go down by 30% tonight, you're dead," Cowell remembered his agent adding ominously.

Nearly a month later, "X Factor" still doesn't look ready to slay Cowell's old employer, "American Idol," in the TV-singing-competition grudge match. That's an important personal and professional point for Cowell, who has a famously bitter rivalry with "Idol" creator Simon Fuller. Cowell left his ultra-lucrative judging perch at that Fox hit to star in and produce the U.S. "Factor" on the same network.

But "Factor" is nevertheless off to a consistent if not spectacular start in a crowded fall marketplace, despite nettlesome interruptions from postseason baseball. A rain delay for a postseason game necessitated a last-minute scheduling switch that ended up bumping Thursday's show to Sunday. Tuesday's airing will be the last before the World Series further disrupts the schedule.

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