The X-Factor had a successful premiere season under normal circumstances—but since this is Simon Cowell we’re talking about, the expectations were set a little too high. Fox expected lightning to strike twice, with X-Factor poised to become the next American Idol-sized hit. Unfortunately, since that didn’t happen, the powers-that-be have demanded a sacrifice—host Steve Jones.
It’s easy to put the blame on Steve Jones, who kept the show running but never quite caught on in popularity the way American Idol host Ryan Seacrest has. You don’t have to be an American Idol fan to know who Ryan Seacrest is—he’s practically a national treasure at this point. However, if you didn’t watch The X-Factor, would you be able to pick Steve Jones out of a crowd?
That may be the problem that Simon Cowell is trying to rectify by letting go of Jones—however it could be a case of curing the symptoms, not the disease. The relative obscurity of Steve Jones is more a telltale sign of the show’s lack of promotion and relevance to pop culture. Kelly Clarkson was a household name when she won the first American Idol because the show was closely followed by the media and news outlets. X-Factor winner Melanie Amaro is as much of an unknown to the general public as Steve Jones, but since Cowell can’t fire her it’s Jones who must be cut loose.
The downfall of Jones is also a bit of history repeating as American Idol also lost one of its hosts after the first season. Brian Dunkleman was originally a co-host alongside Ryan Seacrest, but left the show after one year. Dunkleman’s departure from Idol is often considered one of the all-time infamous career killing moves, although some sources speculate that Dunkleman was on his way to getting the axe anyway. Hopefully things will work out better for Steve Jones than it did for Dunkleman and that his career can survive.
X-Factor judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul will also be joining Jones in line at the unemployement office as Cowell has admitted that the show will undergo some heavy retooling for season two. It’s anybody’s guess as to who will be the one to replace Steve Jones and which new faces we’ll see behind the judge’s table, but it’s obvious that Cowell wants us to sit up and take notice.