AP Television Writer
POSTED: 05:33 p.m. HST, May 08, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 05:45 p.m. HST, May 08, 2011
LOS ANGELES >> Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul are back together again, hoping to recapture their TV chemistry for a new Fox talent show.
The network announced Sunday that the two former "American Idol" judges have reunited to assess would-be singing stars on Cowell's "The X Factor," debuting this fall.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that Abdul had signed to be part of the panel, which taped its first judging session Sunday. Fox and the show's producers sought maximum drama by keeping Abdul's status under wraps until she appeared for the taping.
Glammed up in a shoulder-baring purple dress and purple stilettos, Abdul greeted Cowell with a hug outside the University of Southern California auditorium where contestants were set to audition.
Besides the longtime TV sparring partners, the judges include British pop star Cheryl Cole and Grammy-winning producer Antonio "L.A." Reid.
"This show would never have been the same without Paula and I can't believe I am saying this: I have missed her a lot, and I am thrilled she's on the show," Cowell said in a written statement.
"I am excited beyond words to be a part of 'The X Factor,'" Abdul added. "I'm also delighted and grateful to be sitting next to Simon again ... but you might want to check back with me in a week or two!"
The 48-year-old singer, dancer and choreographer reigned on "Idol" as the nice if sometimes dizzy-seeming judge who often clashed colorfully with Cowell in his role as resident bully. She left "Idol" in 2009, after eight seasons, in a contract dispute.
Abdul and Cowell, seated together at Sunday's taping as they typically were on "Idol," quickly slipped into their familiar, bickering ways. But Abdul also proved willing to stand up to Cowell, who's now her boss as well as fellow judge: He is an executive producer of the Fox version of the hit British show he created.
Announcement of Abdul's involvement in the new show was held up as negotiations continued until the eve of the first taping, according to a person familiar with the talks. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Saturday because Fox and the show's producers had not authorized public comment.
One obstacle was removed by CBS, which featured Abdul on "Live to Dance" earlier this year. She was released earlier this week by the network from any further obligations, a person at CBS said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the network hadn't authorized public comment on the matter.
"Live to Dance" was a talent competition series starring Abdul that premiered on CBS in January. It was a ratings flop.
Late Saturday, Fox confirmed that co-hosts of "The X Factor" will be Steve Jones and Nicole Scherzinger. Jones is a popular TV host in Britain. Scherzinger is a former member of the girl group the Pussycat Dolls who has appeared on the British version of "The X Factor."
The competition is open to solo singers and vocal groups age 12 and up. The winner will get a $5 million record contract.
AP Entertainment Writers Frazier Moore and Christy Lemire contributed to this report.