The roster of celebrities rumored to be in the running to join Simon Cowell's FOX series "The X Factor" has exploded.
The singing contest series returns for season 2 in September. Two spots on the judges' panel are up for grabs following the departure of Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger in January. It was reported last month that Britney Spears was close to finalizing an agreement worth at least $10 million to fill one of the positions.
Now reports say pop stars Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and Avril Lavigne are also being considered. Spokespeople for all parties, including FOX, have declined to comment about the casting reports, as negotiations continue. The network is set to present its upfront presentation of new and returning shows to ad buyers on May 14.
Cowell, who remains on the judges' panel alongside record executive L.A. Reid, Tweeted cryptically on Friday, April 27: "I have some very exciting (and interesting!) @TheXFactor UK & @TheXFactorUSA news coming to you very soon..."
Lovato is currently "closing a deal" to become a judge, the The Hollywood Reporter reported on Tuesday, while the website Celebuzz, which hosts official websites for stars such as the Kardashian sisters, quoted an "insider" as saying that "there have been talks" with Cyrus about having her join the panel. Both stars are former Disney Channel actresses who command a massive fan following.
E! Online quoted a "source" as saying that not only is Cyrus in the running to join the judges' panel, but so is fellow singer Avril Lavigne, who performed on the season 1 finale last year with finalist Chris Rene.
British host Steve Jones was also booted from the show after its season 1 finale. The New York Post reported that Cowell is "is hot to add another big name" to the show and have No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani replace him. She has not commented either.
Lovato and Spears are both enjoying career comebacks following years of turmoil. Spears' fiance and former manager, Jason Trawick was recently approved to become her co-conservator. Her father, Jamie, has been managing her financial affairs since she suffered a 2007 meltdown that saw her shaving her own head at a salon (see video).
Cowell has said that he learned his lesson from the first season of "The X Factor," which delivered lower ratings than those earned by "American Idol," which had featured him as a judge from its 2002 debut to 2010. "The X Factor" debuted on FOX last fall and averaged around 13 million viewers. January's season 11 premiere of "American Idol" was watched by more than 21 million.
Lovato is currently preparing for a North American summer tour that is set to begin in June, following gigs in South America. She dropped out of a concert series with the Jonas Brothers in 2010 to seek medical treatment for what she called "emotional and physical issues" and spent about two months at a facility. She has since opened up about her personal struggles with drugs, alcohol, anorexia and depression in print and television interviews.