Well, at least she's an older teen-ager

My first impressions of Demi Lovato and Britney Spears, in their new "X Factor" world? Lovato could be a sharp, zesty force. Spears, I'm not so sure about. And Lovato really needs to get back to her jet-black hair, instead of those silly dye jobs.

All of that is, however, beside the point. Here's the story I sent to papers:


A funny thing happened to Demi Lovato
while she was waiting to be an “American Idol” contestant: She
became a star … and now an “X Factor” judge.

“I was like counting down the years”
until reaching the “Idol” minimum age of 16, she said Monday.

Instead, there were detours – a
Disney deal at 14, cable-movie starring roles (opposite Joe Jonas and
Selena Gomez) at 15 and 16, a Disney Channel series, rehab, a record
deal and now more. “I never thought that at 19 I would be on the
(judging) panel,” she said.

This was once the turf of music
veterans; now “X Factor” hasBritney Spears, 30, and Lovato, 19.

What does Lovato bring to the show?
“I'm listening to what's on the radio now and I know what my
friends like,” she said.

L.A. Reid, 56 – a music-industry
heavyweight (CEO of Epic Records) and an “X Factor” judge –
jumped to her defense. “Demi is so close to the landscape of music

Simon Cowell – the show's producer
and chief judge – praised Spears (“she's a really, really good
judge”) – and showed that he enjoys sparring with the newcomers.

“Demi is a brat, but there's
something likable about her,” said Cowell, 52.

He also offered what is, in his
universe, praise for Spears: “Britney's quite mean.”

Lovato disagreed: “She's tough, not
mean; she's sweet.”

Replied Cowell: “Sweet as a lemon.”

A sour Spears? “I'm just a very
honest person,” she said.

Like Lovato, she said, she's been a
longtime fan of “American Idol” and “X Factor.” She started
seriously thinking about the show when she had the same make-up
person as Cowell. “I've done eight tours,” she said, and this job
“is really different.”

The first season of “X Factor” was
a ratings hit, but didn't match Cowell's lofty expectations. He
dropped half the judging panel (Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger)
and the host (Steve Jones).

When the second season starts this
fall, he said, it will have two hosts, one male and one female.
“Ideally, I'd have someone who hasn't hosted before.”