"What!" Denzel Washington exclaimed to a reporter when he heard the news. "How are you going to have the show without him? Who's going to insult people?"
The actor's somewhat panicked response summed up how many felt upon hearing that Simon Cowell is leaving "American Idol."
While Cowell may be leaving "Idol" Denzel and others need not fear as the acerbic Brit, whom everyone loves to hate, is not leaving U.S. television screens anytime soon. Cowell is going to launch a new talent show, the "X Factor", which will also appear on Fox. With its mix of shockingly good and bad contestants, the "X Factor" has been wowing British viewers since 2004 and has churned out a variety of pop stars, the most successful of which is Leona Lewis.
The formula for the "X Factor", while similar to "Idol," is a consistent winner in the U.K. Saturday night television ratings war. At times the "X Factor" has attracted 19 million viewers taking as much as 60 percent of the overall audience. The panel of judges in the U.K. currently consists of Cowell, Dannii Minogue (sister to Kylie), British pop star Cheryl Cole, and Louis Walsh, pop producer and promoter extraordinaire.
This year there is a new format. Auditions are held in front of an auditorium of family, friends and "X Factor" fans. Cowell is his typical candid, some might say cutting, self. The judges narrow down the contestants in the initial phases, hundreds of thousands are whittled down until the public is given the vote and ultimately decides the winner. The final 12 are divided into categories -- boys, girls, groups and over 25s. Each group is mentored by one of the judges who fight to promote their candidate.
Previous judges in the U.K. have included Paula Abdul, Cowell's former celebrity sidekick in American Idol and reality television favorite Sharon Osborne. Rumours are circulating that Jayzee is jostling to be a judge on the Stateside show and Cowell has hinted he may be reunited with Abdul.
But unlike 'Idol' which has a maximum age of 28 for contestants, the "X Factor" welcomes people from all ages. As Cowell himself has said the likes of the now globally popular, Susan Boyle could apply. This open door policy has led to some spectacularly bad performances and some stunners. Here, ABC News rounds up some of the Xtra-ordinary moments.
John and Edward Grimes (AKA Jedward), twins from Dublin, dressed in matching red leather jackets bopped and screeched their way to stardom with their rendition of Britney Spears' "Oops I did it again." Out of key and out of step they inserted a few lines from the Titanic into this routine presumably for comedic, or distraction, value. Their dancing, which is better than singing, is reminiscent of a drunken Backstreet Boys routine.
Cowell called them "deluded" and said he was praying they wouldn't win this year's "X Factor". They didn't.
The clean-cut Joe Elderry won the contest, but Jedward stole the show. Their other memorable performances included a rendition of the "Ghostbusters" theme tune and a punk version of Queen's "We Will Rock You!"
Danyl Johnson "Best audition" Cowell had ever heard 2009
Danyl Johnson, a 27-year-old dance teacher from Reading in the south of England, strutted his stuff and wowed the judges and audience with his version of the Beatles "With a Little Help From My Friends."