UPDATED: Nicole Scherzinger To Replace Cheryl Cole On US ‘X Factor’

What in the world is going on with Cheryl Cole and the ever-evolving X Factor drama? First she was rumored to have been given the boot from Fox’s upcoming American version of the TV singing competition. Then news came that negotiations were underway to retain her in some fashion. But late this morning came what appeared to be the final word: Fox and X Factor producer Fremantle released an official statement confirming that Nicole Scherzinger will indeed be replacing Cheryl Cole as a judge on the US version of The X Factor. Details below.

The word from Fox and Fremantle:

“Nicole Scherzinger will be replacing Cheryl Cole on the judging panel of The X Factor. Nicole will join Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid and Paula Abdul on their search across America to find the next global superstar or group to win the life-changing $5 million dollar recording deal. Nicole has previously joined Simon Cowell as a guest judge on The X Factor for the UK version of the show in 2010. Steve Jones will act as sole host of The X Factor.”

Still undetermined, however, is exactly what triggered the shakeup. Entertainment Weekly‘s digging reveals that it wasn’t as harsh as earlier accounts suggested:

“Some reports made it sound like U.S. producers basically booted Cole from the show because they were unhappy with her performance. Our source says it was more consensual. ‘After the Chicago auditions, producers suggested she might be happier returning to the UK panel and her management clearly indicated she’d be happy to consider that,’ a source told EW. ‘It wasn’t meant to be the case she was being fired. She was offered an alternative [to work on the UK version] for more money where they thought she might be happier.’

It’s unclear what role Cole will play, if any, on the U.S. version.

That report followed days of tense speculation about the fate of the popular (and beautifully tattooed) singer. Initially, reports indicated that she’d been yanked over her accent and would instead likely return to the UK version of the show.

But then things turned messy. Says TMZ:

“We’re told Cheryl was due to get paid around $1.5 million for the U.S. show — about what Paula Abdul and LA Reid are making — but she has not decided whether to accept and come back. The whole situation becomes even messier when you take into account Nicole Scherzinger — who was originally hired as a host, but moved to being a judge when Cheryl was axed.”

Billboard also quotes reports that Cole was willing to return to the UK series, but was holding out until she got the $1.5 million American pay-or-play fee owed by production company Fremantle Media. Now she wants “to be paid the agreed-upon amount as well as a separate fee for performing in the British show,” and “the two sides are in a stand off.”

Who really knows what’s up with the show? (To date, no one has officially gone on record to address the whole Cheryl Cole debacle.) Only one thing’s for certain: people are talking about the supposed behind-the-scenes drama several months before the series has even premiered.

And maybe that’s exactly what Fox and X Factor creator Simon Cowell want — especially with American Idol now over and The Voice getting high marks from both viewers and critics.

For those needing a quick update on exactly who Cheryl Cole is, brush up with this list of things you need to know about the UK pop star.

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  • ZMH

    i hear the PR machine running…