The X Factor, the new
Fox singing competition series from Simon Cowell and FremantleMedia North
America, announced Monday it will award the show's winner with a $5 million
record deal, the largest guaranteed prize ever awarded on TV.
The winner will be signed with Syco, a joint venture of Sony
Music and Cowell.
Singers and vocal groups age 12 and older are eligible to
audition, and unlike American Idol, X Factor will have no upper age limit
for contestants. Also in a departure from Idol,
the first time a contestant auditions, it is in front of an audience of
thousands, not just for the judges.
"I like the idea that a 12-year-old on this show can compete
with an older singer and a singing group," said Cowell in a statement. "I've
never believed there should be a cut-off age for talent, and we are going to
put our money where our mouths are with the $5 million recording contract. I'm
doing this show in America because I genuinely believe we can find a
Auditions for X Factor
begin Mar. 27 in Los Angeles, with additional stops planned in Chicago, Dallas,
Miami, New York/New Jersey and Seattle.
"The X Factor has
become a worldwide phenomenon and is unlike anything we've seen in America,"
said Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment, Fox Broadcasting
Company. "The British version is wildly entertaining, but also has a penchant
for stirring up controversy. You never know what Simon has up his sleeve, and
since he will be working both behind and in front of the camera, the country
should brace itself to expect the unexpected."
The X Factor will
premiere on Fox in fall 2011.