Oops, she won't be doing it again: An "X Factor" insider has confirmed to Yahoo!'s Reality Rocks that, after just one season, Britney Spears is not returning to judge "The X Factor" this fall. (Fox had no comment.)
A source close to production said: "Simon [Cowell] and the producers have already been discussing this year's new judging lineup over the holiday, and they have a plan for who they would like already, but Britney has never played a part in those discussions.
"The reality is that toward the end of last season, the main players at the production companies knew they wanted to replace her. She was always a gamble, and a second season always seemed unlikely. She and her team knew it was unlikely that she'd be asked back."
So Britney walks away from the show $15 million richer, but in no other way receiving any real professional boost from her uneven and unimpressive "X Factor" run; it's no surprise, then, that she is apparently exiting the series to refocus on her music career. Despite earlier gossip that Britney would be "fired" from "The X Factor" after failing to bring in big ratings numbers, not to mention the statement above, TMZ is reporting that she is leaving of her own accord. So this seems to be a mutual parting.
Meanwhile, Simon and Fox are out $15 million, and they once again must scramble to retool this still-struggling show for Season 3.
To be honest, Season 3 of "The X Factor" can only be improved by this development, since Britney made Season 1's judges, the often-useless Paula Abdul and the often-hated Nicole Scherzinger, look amazing, to use one of Brit Brit's own favorite words. She made fired Season 1 host Steve Jones look like a personality plus. And she didn't even perform on the show (unlike her much-lower-paid co-star, Demi Lovato), though it had been reported that $2 million of her salary was supposed to be a "bonus" for doing at least one live (or lip-synched) "X Factor" performance. Britney simply was not a great judge--certainly not one worthy of a $15 million paycheck.
But you know what? I don't blame Britney for the majority of "The X Factor's" problems, many of which existed long before she came around. Sure, her glassy-eyed demeanor, limited vocabulary ("amazing" was really her only go-to adjective), lack of spontaneity, and even greater lack of interest in her own contestants undoubtedly all played major factors (no pun intended) in the series' sophomore-season slump. But in the end, Simon is the one who aggressively courted Britney, threw a bunch of money at her, and (like so many other reality TV producers who foolishly believe that stunt-casting a bunch of celebrities like Howard Stern, Steven Tyler, or Nicki Minaj will generate instant ratings) assumed that Britney's marquee name alone would be enough to make millions of viewers tune in--whether or not she was qualified for the gig.
And if Simon had secretly hoped that the "I got your crazy" singer would become the show's token wacky judge who'd create some trainwreck TV ("He wanted crazy Britney, but he got boring Britney," an anonymous source recently told Us Weekly), well then, that's even worse, since any zaniness on Britney's part would have likely stemmed from her long and well-publicized history of actual mental illness. If that was what Simon was really hoping for, then maybe he deserved what he got instead: a judge who wasn't just not wacky, or not crazy, but was just plain old "boring Britney." A boring judge who just took the money and ran after a single season.
So what now? "The X Factor" has had two seasons to get it right, so it'll be make-or-break time come fall 2013. Along with Britney, L.A. Reid also recently exited "The X Factor," leaving two new open spots on the Season 3 judging panel (Demi Lovato is rumored to be returning to the show), and so, the judging-panel speculation begins anew. Hopefully Simon will cast wisely this time. Will he try to hire another eight-figure-salary pop star, renewing his pursuit of past contenders like Katy Perry, Beyonce, or Rihanna, and just hope that solves the show's many issues? Or will he seriously consider hiring non-celebrity music-industry experts, as I have long advocated for all of these singing shows? Watch this space to find out if the third time will finally be the charm for "The X Factor."