Call it Black Monday on the Fox lot. What began with news that host Steve Jones—who traveled with The X Factor from the U.K. to host the first season of the American version—would not be returning to the show, quickly spiraled into a major housecleaning that axed judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger. Who is going to cry now? Fox has confirmed that Jones and Scherzinger will not be returning, and sources tell Deadline that Abdul has parted ways as well. According to the report, none of the three dearly departed left the show on their own accord, which should make for some awkward conversations when Simon Cowell and Paula have their weekly book club meetings. While Cowell and the powers that be brainstorm ways to make the show a winner in its second season—Mariah Carey? Jessica Simpson? Scratch group acts entirely?—L.A. Reid better hope and pray his disgruntled demeanor and established cred will continue to draw people in—the learning curve is apparently very short in Sir Simon's class.
If the inaugural season wasn't unstable enough, these major shakeups will serve to only send doubters into a rampage urging for the cancellation of yet another flailing music competition show. Luckily we have the sinking ratings of American Idol to analyze while we wait, and the prospect that Scherzinger will use this free time to get back to that still unreleased album. As for Jones: Sorry, mate. Call Brian Dunkleman?