Report: Steve Jones Leaving ‘The X Factor’

Embattled The X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger wouldn’t commit to continuing on the Fox singing series, which has been renewed for a second season. Asked at a press conference whether she’d return if asked, the Pussycat Dolls singer didn’t give a straight answer, saying, “I’ve had a lot of fun this season. The reason I took this job is I wanted to mentor, first and foremost. … It has been very hard on me, the elimination process. It’s something I could never have been prepared for.” Scherzinger, a last-minute replacement for original judge Cheryl Cole, has received mostly negative feedback from fans and recently found herself at the center of a controversy surrounding the surprise elimination of 13-year-old Rachel Crow. Scherzinger didn’t speak to that controversy at the media gathering hyping the two-part first-season finale this Tuesday and Wednesday, where she was sitting beside Josh Krajcik, the bearded, shaggy-haired singer she is mentoring into the finals. (The other two finalists, also present at the press conference, are Melanie Amaro — mentored by Simon Cowell — and the L.A. Reid-mentored Chris Rene.) “For me, what’s important is  to live in the moment. I’ve got to get Josh through this and to come out swinging,” Scherzinger said. “So I’m just going to focus on doing a really good job with Josh here.”

Cowell himself remained silent today with regard to Scherzinger’s future. Last week, he responded to a TV Guide question whether he’d want to replace Scherzinger as a judge next season with: “Haven’t got a clue. We change these shows all the time. You listen to the network, you listen to the sponsors.” Just last month, Scherzinger had responded to a fan on a chat board that she’d love to return “if they’ll have me back. … I would love to be back.” Whether she’ll have that opportunity remains an open question. The rest of the press conference at CBS Television City’s Stage 36, where X Factor is produced, played as more of a minimum-scrutiny love fest and pep rally, with no questions about the show’s alleged juicing of live performances and reports of lip-syncing. But we did learn that Justin Bieber will be singing on the show this week in a pre-recorded appearance. And the order of performance for the three finalists was revealed. Krajcik will perform first, Rene second, and Amaro last.