By Jethro Nededog
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Fox's "The X Factor" is really throwing the spotlight on its contenders on the Season 3 premiere episode, which the network screened for guests at Thursday's premiere party in West Hollywood.
The idea that the contenders come first on TV competition shows has become a sort of lip service as we've watched one after another lineup of judges steal all the attention with their feuds, ego-driven squabbles and general attention-whoring.
That's not to say that "The X Factor's" judges don't have their moments, but as we reported previously, they actually seem to be getting along.
"I'd like to thank the girls, who've been horrific," executive producer and judge Simon Cowell joked when addressing the party's guests. "Actually, they've been fantastic."
"I think this is going to be a really fun series," he continued. "The whole purpose of making the show is to find a star. The No. 1 movie right now is ‘One Direction' and it just shows you that you can really live your dreams if you do well on one of these shows."
Pop boy group One Direction competed on the UK version of the show. And although they came in third on its seventh season, they've gone on to sell more than 10 million albums. Their tour documentary, "One Direction: This Is Us," debuted in theatres on August 20.
Earlier in the evening, Cowell broke his silence about the controversial news that he's having a baby with a married woman. "I'm going to be a dad!" he yelled happily.
That was followed by returning judge Demi Lovato joking, "The important thing that I have to say is Simon's actually making me a godmother! Nobody knew, not even Simon!"
To which new judge Paulina Rubio added, "I just heard that Simon is going to breastfeed and I'm just really excited you're going to do that."
The crowd roared and Simon nodded that it was true before new judge Kelly Rowland brought the presentation back to its core message.
"As you can see, we're having a wonderful time. Simon has been complete hell to work with. We still love him anyway. We're having a good time," she interjected. "We hope you get to see that come across this season. We have some really incredible talent, some people who really want this."
The one-hour premiere starts with auditions as usual. Yet, if you're craving a lot of tomfoolery between the judges, you won't get it. Instead, it focuses on several bad auditions interspersed with a few that may give you the chills.
Several of the best acts on the premiere episode remind us not to judge a book by its cover. One woman in her mid-50s has an eerie resemblance to the late Whitney Houston and the voice to match. Another contestant, a 13-year-old girl with a unique handicap, lights up the stage and reminds Cowell of a young Carrie Underwood. And one charismatic young man may be rough around the edges, but tackles a Rihanna song that wins over the crowd.
After making over the judges' panel twice, this one may just be the one that allows viewers to focus on the singers rather than the over-the-top antics of its judges.
"The X Factor" will need to pull in more viewers this season after lackluster ratings showings for its first two seasons. Its Season 2 finale attracted 9.6 million viewers and earned a 3.1 rating with the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic - 18 percent lower than the previous year's finale.
Can judges who actually get along and refocusing itself on finding a star make the difference for "The X Factor" this season?
"The X Factor" Season 3 premieres Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.