Kiwis to get X-Factor

By Rebecca Lewis

X-Factor winner Leona Lewis. Photo / Supplied
X-Factor winner Leona Lewis. Photo / Supplied

One of the world's biggest TV talent quests is coming here, giving Kiwis the chance to prove they have what it takes to be a superstar.

TV3 has confirmed a deal to produce a local version of The X-Factor - the hugely popular British singing competition produced by music mogul Simon Cowell.

The show is a global franchise, hailed by some for unearthing astounding new talent, criticised by others for churning out indistinguishable pop pap.

Cowell is one of the most powerful men in world television. This month, he quit judging American Idol to focus on taking his show worldwide.

Kelly Martin, TV3's director of programming, confirmed the free-to-air network had signed off the "exciting" deal with Fremantle Media, with production set to start next year.

Details are scarce on the Kiwi version, but Martin said the programme would follow the highly successful UK format.

In Britain, the show launched the career of Leona Lewis, who conquered the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with hits such as Bleeding Love.

The local deal has been made possible following the announcement in January that Cowell was to launch an American version of the show, after his contract with Idol expired.

"As soon as we heard about the American version we got on to it," said Martin. "TV3 has never done or had a reality show before that is quite to the level this will be."

Judges and hosts for the show are yet to be decided, but Martin said they are an "open book" for ideas.

The X-Factor was launched in the United Kingdom in 2004. It replaced the hugely successful Pop Idol, which was halted after its second season.

Since then, the show has been judged by huge names in the music and entertainment business, including Cowell, reality TV personality Sharon Osbourne, singer Dannii Minogue, Irish music manager Louis Walsh and singer and model Cheryl Cole.

How it works
* The X-Factor features four judges, who judge the talents of people of all ages. Unlike the Idol shows, there is no upper age cut-off - contestants just need to be 16 years or over.
* Singers can enter as individuals or as a group, and are split into four categories once through the final audition process.
* Each judge then takes on the role of a mentor for one set - boys under 25, girls under 25, the over 25s and groups - to advise them on their live TV performances.
* The public vote for their favourite contestants.
* The prize is to be a recording contract, but TV3 says details are yet to be confirmed.

X-Factor facts:
* Despite being the UK show's first winner, winner Steve Brookstein's career has plummeted since 2004, forcing him to play to small crowds in crowded pubs. Sun reported in March that just 50 fans paid £2.50 to watch him sing. He told the crowd: "This is what happens when you fall out with Simon Cowell."
* The show sparked the return of the British boy band in 2008, when group JLS were the runner-up. The boys' debut album went triple platinum.

- Herald on Sunday

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