NATPE 2012: Frot-Coutaz Embraces Change at 'X Factor,' 'Idol' and at FremantleMedia North America - Broadcasting & Cable

NATPE 2012: Frot-Coutaz Embraces Change at 'X Factor,' 'Idol' and at FremantleMedia North America

Says plans underway to stream or download 'Idol'
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Complete Coverage: NATPE 2012

Get ready, X
Factor
fans, changes are on the way.

That's
what Cecile Frot-Coutaz, president of FremantleMedia North America, told B&C Executive Editor Melissa Grego
at a panel at NATPE in Miami on Wednesday. In fact,
Frot-Coutaz was leaving South Beach to fly to London for two days of
meetings with Simon Cowell and the X
Factor
team.

"We
go through every aspect -- casting, tone, reality aspect, demos, our host, our
judges -- and think about what we need to do differently. We dissect every
different aspect," said Frot-Coutaz, who was awarded the Brandon Tartikoff
Legacy Award on Tuesday evening for her contributions to the industry. 

Frot-Coutaz,
a direct and confident executive, makes no bones that some things need to
change at the singing show that Cowell imported to Fox from the U.K.

"X Factor was a hit in numbers but it
wasn't different enough," she told Grego.  "It was different enough from Idol but I think The Voice and X Factor
ran into each other on a lot of different aspects. We need to find out
what's really specific about The X Factor
and push those things forward. It's about making those things more distinctive."

"That's
what we do on all of our shows. When the season is over, we review everything.
That's not to say we are going to make changes for the sake of making changes,
but we benefit from our experience. There's nothing to say that you have to
stick with the same panel [of judges] for four or five years."

She
was also upfront that Cowell telling the world that X Factor would be even bigger than American Idol (the show he left to do X Factor) was a "silly thing to say."

"You
can't achieve what he achieves unless you believe you are going to get there,"
Frot-Coutaz says. "Simon lives on a Simon planet and that planet is a very
ambitious one. The beauty of the guy is that he takes you [with him to that]
planet. That's why he can achieve great success -- because he takes people with
him.  Anyone who achieves that level of success walks a fine line between
genius and a little bit of craziness."

For all of those reasons, Frot-Coutaz admits that she and Cowell don't always get along. "Sometimes we
fall out, and sometimes he doesn't talk to me for two or three weeks. When
we're talking, he talks to me every day or he texts me. It used to bother me in
the beginning but now it doesn't. I know it will pass."

As
for FremantleMedia's giant hit, American
Idol
, even the unflappable Frot-Coutaz has her moments of insecurity. One
of those happened when Idol decided
to replace most of its judging panel prior to last season.

"I
was terrified. I had a really bad summer, a really horrible summer. The world
had ripped off the show, we were trying to find someone to replace Simon, and
ultimately there isn't anyone to replace Simon. But you have no choice. Your
lead guy is gone and the show is going on and you have no choice."

Lucky
for Fremantle, Fox and Frot-Coutaz, the addition of Steven Tyler and Jennifer
Lopez last season seemed to reignite the show, although it premiered this
season to the biggest decline in the show's decade-long history, with a
year-to-year drop of 24%.

Speaking
of Idol, Frot-Coutaz says episodes of
the singing hit may soon be available for online streaming for authenticated
viewers:  "Fox is putting plans in place to stream or download it, but
it's not up and running yet."

Those
plans are not finalized, according to Fox, although the show is available for
three days after its primetime run on video on demand for subscribers of Armstrong Cable, AT&T U-Verse, Bright House Networks,
Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and Comcast's
Xfinity TV. If content airs within the three-day commercial rating, making it
available after the first broadcast window is not an issue, said Frot-Coutaz.

With
all that she has on her plate -- executive producing Idol, X Factor, America's Got Talent and running
FremantleMedia North America -- changes to her job may be coming soon as well,
she said.

"It's
tough and it's getting untenable and I will have to figure something out," she
said. "I'm not as day to day as some of the other executive producers but it's
not quite working. I have some ideas though."

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