LOS ANGELES – Britney Spears is coming to the rescue of Fox’s “The X Factor,” the singing contest in search of a ratings boost.

The Grammy-winning pop star has signed on as a judge for the show’s second season, a person familiar with the deal said Thursday. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss details and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A call to Spears’ publicist seeking comment was not immediately returned.

“The X Factor” debuted last fall to ratings that fell short of creator Simon Cowell’s sky-high predictions. The show’s slate was wiped nearly clean in January when judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger exited along with host Steve Jones.

That left Cowell and music producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid as judges on “X Factor,” which is based on Cowell’s hit U.K. series.

Spears signed a one-year, $15 million contract, E! News reported Wednesday, citing an unidentified source. Fox declined to comment on Spears or other cast additions for “The X Factor.”

Shock jock Howard Stern, however, didn’t hold back at a news conference in New York touting his own new TV gig. “I think Britney is going to stand there and eat a lollipop and wear a sexy outfit and I don’t expect great opinions out of her. I’ll tune in and see what kind of a train wreck she is,” said Stern, who debuts Monday as a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

Spears, 30, is a former child performer who became an international star with her 1999 debut album, “Baby One More Time.” More hits followed, including “Oops!.. I Did It Again” and “Toxic,” but her personal life was difficult, including rehab spells and time in a psychiatric ward.

Last fall, as she toured in support of her seventh album, the hit “Femme Fatale,” she told The Associated Press in London: “I hear the older you get, the wiser you get and the more you know what you want – so hopefully it’ll be a good year.”

The “X Factor” job comes at a time of change. In April, her fiance, Jason Trawick, got approval from a Superior Court judge to become a co-conservator over the singer, joining her father in that role.

Two charged in extortion of Stevie Wonder

LOS ANGELES – Two people have been charged with extortion after police detectives say they arrested the pair for trying to sell what they said was embarrassing information about Stevie Wonder.

The duo, Alpha Lorenzo Walker and his girlfriend Tamara Eileen Diaz, have been jailed since their arrest on May 2. Both have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to appear in court on May 16 for a hearing in which a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for them to stand trial.

According to a felony complaint, Walker and Diaz attempted to obtain money from the Grammy-winning musician, who is identified by his birth name, Steveland Morris. An email message sent to Wonder’s studio was not immediately returned Friday.

Facebook’s Saverin ends U.S. citizenship

SAN FRANCISCO – Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook, renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.

Facebook plans to raise as much as $11.8 billion through the IPO, the biggest in history for an Internet company. Saverin’s stake is about 4 percent, according to the website Who Owns Facebook. At the high end of the IPO valuation, that would be worth about $3.84 billion. His holdings aren’t listed in Facebook’s regulatory filings.

Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship, a move that can reduce their tax liabilities in this country. The Brazilian-born resident of Singapore is one of several people who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook in a Harvard University dorm and stand to reap billions of dollars after the world’s largest social network holds its IPO.

“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” said Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Saverin, in an emailed statement.

Saverin’s name is on a list of people who chose to renounce citizenship as of April 30, published by the Internal Revenue Service.

– From news service reports