'The X Factor's' Simon Cowell on audition booths, Fergie as judge and Gloria Estefan pitching in

simon-cowell-x-factor-320.jpg "The X Factor" has already started launching on-site auditions, where thousands of singers perform in front of producers for the show. Now executive producer Simon Cowell tells the media about the new part of the audition process - the specially-built recording studio booths placed at cities across the country.

"The idea was that we could only go into so many cities to do the open auditions. When we spoke to FOX and we spoke to Pepsi, they wanted to get a further reach," says Cowell. "These booths came to my attention just under a year ago. The idea was we go into as many cities as we can, give other people a chance to audition. It's like doing an audition in front of the producers, the guys from the record company. [The tapes] are officially branded audition tapes, they're sent to the producers ... The whole idea of the show is we've invited the whole of America to audition and this is another attempt to reach out, really."

Starting Friday, April 8 the booths will be appearing in six cities (in addition to the six cities where the live open auditions take place). And Cowell says that hopefully by the time the show is going to air, the booths will have appeared in even more cities.

As for the cattle-call auditions, so far Los Angeles and Miami have hosted and Cowell says the turn-out is staggering.

"They're going great. The numbers are much higher than we anticipated," says Cowell. "We started off in Los Angeles and it was just under 20,000, apparently. And the latest count from Miami is around 8,000 to 10,000 are expected."

But don't think that you have to go to an open audition to be considered. Cowell says that the singing booth auditions are at no disadvantage to the live auditions.

"I know some of the places [the booths] are going to, I think it would be impossible for some of those people to attend the actual auditions. What they will find - it's professionally done, you can sing whatever you like, it's a relatively straight-forward process," says Cowell. "I don't think it's probably as fun as attending an open audition, but it's your chance to be seen and heard and I'm going to try and put these in as many cities as possible prior to our filming."

Speaking of filming, Cowell was mum as to the judges panel. He did confirm that Fergie's name has been tossed out - but so have a lot of other names.

"If you asked everyone involved with the show who they want on the panel, you'd get 25 different opinions," laughs Cowell. "People freak out, they have different ideas, another name comes into play. In Miami today, Gloria Estefan turns up and apparently she did a fantastic job and I had no idea she was going to be there. She gave everyone a lot of support and encouragement and not a lot of people would bother to do that."

We can't wait to find out who the judges are. We trust Cowell to find some good ones. If you are interested in "The X Factor" but cannot attend one of the remaining open auditions in New Jersey, Seattle, Chicago or Dallas, here is the schedule for the singing booths:

  • Honolulu, HI - Opens Friday, April 8 at the Pearlridge Center Uptown
  • Phoenix, AZ - Opens Friday, April 8 at the Arizona Mills
  • Nashville, TN - Opens Saturday, April 9 at the Coolsprings Galleria
  • Anchorage, AK - Opens Tuesday, April 12 at the Dimond Center
  • Kansas City, KS - Opens Friday, April 15 at the Oak Park Mall
  • Denver, CO - Opens Saturday, April 16 at the Colorado Mills

Are you going to try one of the audition booths?
Photo/Video credit: FOX