‘The X-Factor’: Just An “American Idol” Copycat?

With the premiere of Simon Cowell’s new talent show “The X-Factor” coming tonight, many are wondering if the ratings bonanza that has been a national sensation in the U.K. for years will find the same success stateside.

The show in many ways replicates the premise of “American Idol,” with the exception that groups are allowed rather than only solo acts, and the age range is expanded to 12 and up. And of course there is the massive $5 million prize for the winner — which could potentially attract a different level of talent than this season of “Idol.”

“The X-Factor” uses the same concept seen on other talent competition shows, with judges mentoring the talent. Add to this is the return of “Idol” judges Cowell and Paula Abdul, and it feels like the show will hit big. So what are people saying that have seen a sneak peek ahead of tomorrow’s premiere?

Generally, the attitude seems to be that it is in fact an “Idol” rehash, writ larger and with a bigger budget. But that doesn’t matter – it’ll still be huge.

Robert Bianco of USA Today said that the show follows closely in the footsteps left by “American Idol,” but has a sheen that “sometimes makes “ Factor” feel more like a concert film than a talent show.” Still, he says, it will probably work and ultimately be a success.

The Chicago Tribune’s Steve Johnson makes a similar assessment, bringing up a moment on the show in which, reacting to a contestant’s performance, Cowell quips: “Most of it is very copycat.” A metaphor for his latest talent show behemoth, perhaps.

Cowell himself appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Tuesday night to talk about his new show, and amid some good-natured jabs at the late night host, the wildly successful producer laid out the true difference between “Idol” and “Factor.”

“[There is a ] massive age range on this show,” Cowell explained. “You can be 12, you can be 80. We have groups, and because we put a big sum of money up, we attracted a big group of contestants … and I think they’re good.”

Kimmel responded to that by saying “You could have an 8-year-old kid singing against … Larry King,” an image Cowell did not seem to enjoy. He then went on to describe one of his contestant peeves: the young and the arrogant.

“If they’re obnoxious — the worst is you can get when you get someone that’s 17, and comes out and says ‘I’m blessed,’” Cowell said. “I say: ‘you’re not blessed.’ It irritates me.”

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