It is a well-known fact now that popstar Britney Spears will not be making a return to Fox reality contest The X Factor USA for its third season, but while many people have offered their opinions on why it happened (with the singer’s official line being to ‘focus on her music career’), though producers appear to be getting in the last word (and ‘moral high ground’) by suggesting that the decision was made after a pay dispute.
Britney confirmed she was leaving as a judge on the reality contest last Friday (11 January), as she was denied her request of a $3m pay rise to stay on the show. That salary increase (from her previous 1-season deal of $15m) would have brought her to $18m (£11m), much more than fellow female judge Demi Lovato (said to have been on a $1m contract), though executives including Simon Cowell decided that the singer ‘wasn’t worth that much’.
A source noted of the more specific reasoning: “After much deliberation, they just felt that Britney wasn’t worth that much because she wasn’t bringing enough to the table. Her performance as a judge was scrutinised, and she didn’t really add anything to the show. They felt she didn’t warrant a $3 million pay hike.”
In the meantime, though, X Factor‘s search for a new celebrity judge (or at least two, given the departure of LA Reid) will have to compete for publicity with rival Fox show American Idol, who’s executive producer Nigel Lythgoe recently suggested the reason behind his series’ higher ratings and longevity: “I do think that other [reality singing] shows tend to concentrate a little more on maybe gimmicks, maybe their judges a little too much – and I say that having just experienced two months of talking about our new judges! But hopefully the programmes themselves when you see them will show you that we’re still focusing on the contestants. Also the amount of votes that people cast and get involved with, they want to see them succeed after the show as well.”
Idol judge Randy Jackson, present since day 1 of the original TV talent contest, added of the ‘legacy’ that the show will eventually leave behind: “This is the Picasso to me. The first one of its kind, still the best of its kind, so there can be copies – but you’re never going to beat the Picasso.”
Meanwhile, Britney Spears is probably not too worried about her reality TV loss, though, with rumours that she is close to signing a one-year residency deal in Las Vegas (USA), where extending for a second 12 months could earn her an estimated $100m in total for a job that has a ‘minimum 2-3 nights off per week’ clause, with Caesar’s Palace amongst the venues planning to take her on the one-city tour with nightly tickets potentially sold for over $600 each. Nice work if you can get it…