Since Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger departed " The X Factor," there have been non-stop rumors about which top female artists would replace them on the Fox reality show. Some names in the mix have included Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and the late Whitney Houston. Speaking with reporters on a conference call Wednesday, Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid wouldn't confirm any of the rumors, but they did address the talk about Whitney.
Asked if the late singer would've joined the judging panel had she lived, L.A. Reid told reporters, "We love Whitney and we would have certainly considered it, but the truth is, it never came to that. You know, there was an interest there, but we never actually had meetings about it…we didn't really get that far. So, I don't think it's proper to comment beyond that."
Reid added that he thought it would be nice to do a Whitney tribute on "The X Factor," but Cowell pointed out that since the show isn't going to return until later this year, both "The Voice" and "American Idol" are likely to beat them to the whole "Whitney tribute" idea.
"If we decide to do it, I think we have to do it in a different way," he said. "But the important thing is that we are gonna continually pay tribute to Whitney Houston on this show, because we love her, we love her songs and there probably won't ever be a season where you won't hear a Whitney song."
Regarding rumors about the other stars allegedly being considered, Cowell said, "It's true to say that…a lot more people have entered the frame this year and we've really waited to see who was gonna contact us before we actually contacted people, and we're in that place right now, which is a good place to be in."
He added, "We will meet a number of people over the next few weeks, mainly to explain to them that this is big commitment…because of the mentoring aspect. But I can't confirm or deny any of these rumors at the moment."
When pressed to reveal what they feel Britney Spears could bring to the panel, both Cowell and Reid laughed but wouldn't be baited.
"Are we flattered there could be interest? Yes," said Cowell. "Other than that, there's gonna be a lot of twists and turns over the next few weeks and a lot of things we're gonna announce. But while you've got 'The Voice' and 'Idol' competing with [us], I've learned a big lesson: keep your mouth shut!"
Cowell also addressed the recent controversy surrounding his suggestion, via Twitter, that the winners of "The X Factor," "American Idol" and "The Voice" all compete in some kind of "super-final."
"Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has poo-pooed the idea, and so has "Voice" coach Adam Levine, and Cowell isn't happy about it.
"I was very disappointed with the reactions back from the other two shows because I like the idea of super finals, providing, you know, the contestants were up for it from the beginning," he told reporters. He added that he and Reid were still "up for" the idea, though, and Reid chimed in, "Absolutely, I think it's a great idea. Especially if it takes place on 'The X Factor!'"