Simon Cowell doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice.
The X Factor chief is taking his own sweet time finding the ideal host for the second season of the Fox version of his hit show. Unlike last year, when host-bot Steve Jones handled the show solo, Cowell wants two people for the gig this fall. And instead of having a host on the singing competition from the very start, the audition rounds (which are already being shot) will be host-free. “I want to work with a boy and girl and I definitely think this is a role for two people,” Cowell recently told reporters. “[We] have narrowed it down to 5 people.”
Some names we’re hearing are under consideration: BET personality Rocsi Diaz, actor and America’s Best Dance Crew host Mario Lopez and actress/model Stacy Keibler. Add to that some names E! Online is hearing: Khloé Kardashian, Kelly Osbourne, BET’s 106 & Park host Terrence J, sportscaster Erin Andrews and radio personality Mike Catherwood (more names below).
Sources emphasize that prospective hosts are still being interviewed and actual testing for the gig is not expected for several more weeks. “They want to make sure the duo has chemistry,” one insider said.
“If you count, which I did, over a two-hour show, we separated what the host says, and it’s 12 minutes – and a lot of that is quite boring information,” Cowell told reporters. “There are ways of relaying information that it doesn’t become like a news reader’s role. Like if I go on Jay Leno’s show, I love doing it with someone else because you bounce off each other and it puts less pressure on me and I enjoy the interview more. When the hosts are facing four judges, I think it’s very intimidating and I think you need another opinion.”
Of course, American Idol famously started with two hosts, before Ryan Seacrest consumed the gig. “What happened in America is that it ended up with one because they didn’t get the right second person. I always thought it was a two-person job,” Cowell says. “Ryan would obviously disagree agree with that.”
Fox and X Factor reps declined comment.
UPDATE: Two more names sources say have been considered: VH1 sketch comedy actress Stevie Ryan and Vampire Diaries actress Katerina Graham.