LOS ANGELES – Britney Spears is out of “The X Factor” after a season in which the pop star failed to deliver a ratings boost for the singing contest, a person familiar with the show’s plans said Thursday.
Creator Simon Cowell and fellow producers are discussing replacements for Spears and another panelist, record producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid, said the person, who lacked authority to comment publicly and insisted of anonymity.
Reid previously announced he was leaving after two seasons. Demi Lovato appears likely to return, joining Cowell on the revamped panel. The show is due to return in the fall.
The departures are yet another shake-up for “The X Factor,” Cowell’s attempt to strike magic with a U.S. version of his successful U.K. series. Cowell replaced panelists Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones after a disappointing first season, and ratings dropped in the second season.
The December season finale drew 9.7 million viewers, compared to about 11 million for the first year’s season-ender. Although the series has failed to match Cowell’s bold pre-debut predictions, and certainly hasn’t eclipsed sister Fox show “American Idol,” it’s helped shore up the network’s fall schedule.
Pop star Spears, however, proved less than a one-season wonder.
Combining fame and a history of erratic behavior, she was seen as a potential spark for better ratings. But reviewers faulted her for appearing inexpressive to the point of boredom and a repetitively dull use of the word “awesome.”
On Tuesday, Fox network chief Kevin Reilly defended Spears, saying she was doing “a really good job” during a Q&A with the Television Critics Association.
“She came on, people remain fascinated with her and always will be,” he said. “Maybe some people were waiting for more drastic displays of some nature that never came, so for those expecting that, it didn’t happen.”
Timberlake going back to music?
NEW YORK – Is Justin Timberlake bringing his music career back?
The 31-year-old superstar has concentrated almost exclusively on his acting career over the last few years. But on Thursday, he posted a video on his website that showed him walking into a studio, putting on headphones and saying: “I’m ready.”
Timberlake hasn’t made an album since 2006’s Grammy-winning “FutureSex/LoveSounds.” In the video, Timberlake is also heard saying that he obsesses over his music and doesn’t want to put music out that he doesn’t love – and that you have to wait for music you love. The video ends with a countdown to midnight Sunday.
Timberlake – who recently married longtime girlfriend Jessica Biel – has been in several movies, including “The Social Network.”
Gene Shalit’s driving charge to be dismissed
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – A misdemeanor driving charge against retired television movie critic Gene Shalit is set to be dismissed in Massachusetts. The 86-year-old Shalit was cited in October after his vehicle struck a utility pole and came to rest against a house in Lenox, in western Massachusetts. Shalit, who lives in nearby Stockbridge, wasn’t hurt. He told police he fell asleep.
The agreement between police and Shalit’s lawyer was approved during a probable cause hearing Wednesday in Southern Berkshire District Court. The hearing was continued to April 2, when the driving to endanger charge will be dismissed. Shalit’s lawyer tells The Berkshire Eagle his client won’t drive until the next hearing.