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Jones, Scherzinger, Abdul shown door in X Factor shake-up

Date January 31, 2012

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Simon Cowell gave his talent show "The X Factor" a major shake-up, showing the door to host Steve Jones, judge Nicole Scherzinger, and old friend Paula Abdul after a lackluster first season on U.S. television.

Broadcaster Fox confirmed on Tuesday that British host Jones, and former Pussycat Dolls singer Scherzinger would not be returning for the second season of the show in September.

And sources close to the show said that Abdul -- Cowell's old "American Idol" sparring partner -- had also been voted off in what some industry watchers called a bloodbath.

Jones broke the news on Twitter.

"I won't be hosting next seasons 'X Factor' which is a shame but I can't complain as I've had a great time. Good luck to everyone on the show" he wrote late on Monday.

The shake-up leaves only Cowell, the "X Factor" creator and acerbic judge, and record producer Antonio "L.A." Reid left on the panel of the singing contest, which arrived on U.S. television amid much hype last fall, but disappointing ratings.

The ouster of Jones, seen as wooden and flustered in the live shows, was expected. Scherzinger had also drawn criticism from audiences and TV critics for bland comments.

But the reported exit of Abdul -- whom Cowell had courted assiduously for the show -- was greeted with shock. Fox executives could not immediately confirm on Tuesday that Abdul was also leaving.

There was no word on Tuesday on who would replace the three.

Cowell launched "The X Factor" in the United States boasting that it would beat "American Idol" as the nation's most-watched TV show. But it drew less than 13 million viewers -- about half those who tune into "Idol" -- and many TV critics found it over-produced and too similar to "American Idol".

Cowell admitted in December that he had been "a little too cocky" when he told brought the show over to the United States after years of success in Britain.

But he also told reporters that it would improve in its second season and Fox executives said in January that Cowell was planning "tweaks" for the second season.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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