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What to Watch on Wednesday: 'X-Factor' returns with Britney and Demi

The X-Factor (8pm, Fox) - Season 2 begins with new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato joining Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid for an evening of auditions.

Ghost Hunters (9pm, Syfy) - The TAPS crew investigate a camp in Georgia and a haunted home in Marion, N.C.

Royal Pains (9pm, USA) - Boris calls on Hank again to travel the globe to help Dmitry. Meanwhile, Hank and Harper grow closer and Paige continues to navigate the fallout from the revelation of a family secret.

Guys with Kids (10pm, NBC) - A new comedy about three dads in their thirties opens with Chris needing to find a babysitter so he can attend a basketball game without his ex-wife finding out.

Top Chef Masters (10pm, Bravo) - The chefs participate in an underground dining event by creating an epic picnic-style meal.

Family Guns (10pm, National Geographic Channel) - A new reality series documenting the daily life at New Jersey's International Military Antiques, a family-run supplier of military collectibles. In tonight's opener, IMA manager clashes with his father over what to do with their most valuable pieces. Elsewhere, staffers risk their jobs by making unauthorized purchases of two rare, mint-conditioned World War II sniper rifles.

Clay Aiken joins 'Celebrity Apprentice' and says he respects Trump more than Cowell

We joined in on the speculation back in September that Clay Aiken would be competing on the next season of "The Celebrity Apprentice" -- and we were right! (Okay, technically, the Reality Blurred blogger was right, but we happily glommed on!)

The Raleigh native, who was a runner-up on the second season of "American Idol," was officially announced yesterday as a member of the 5th season of "The Celebrity Apprentice," which also features Arsenio Hall, Lou Ferrigno, Cheryl Tiegs, Penn Gillette, Debbie Gibson, Adam Carolla, and others.

In an interview with "Today.com," Aiken said he respects "Celebrity Apprentice" host Donald Trump more than he respected Simon Cowell, the head judge on "American Idol," because Trump's "success is real outside of TV." Ouch.

Durham man suing 'X-Factor' posts online petition

The 86-year-old Durham man who has sued Fox's "The X-Factor" and its executive producer Simon Cowell, has launched a website with a petition he hopes will get him another chance to be on the show.

Hy Marks flubbed his "X-Factor" audition in June after he says the show's producers wore him out filming promotional spots for the new series. Marks and his son Stephen Marks of Florida, who also auditioned, say that after hours of grueling work in the 90+ degree Miami heat, the elder Marks was too wiped out to deliver a good audition.

Their lawsuit, filed in September, requested that the "The X-Factor" give Marks another chance to audition under normal conditions.

The new website, HyMarksSings.com, has video of Marks singing and a petition you can sign if you want to see him on "The X-Factor."

"The X-Factor" debuted well in September but has slipped in the ratings. They are currently down to 12 acts. The next episode airs Wednesday night at 8 p.m. 

THE NEW FALL SEASON: 'The X-Factor'

"The X-Factor"
Wednesday, 8 p.m. on Fox 

Yes, "The X-Factor" is a lot like "American Idol."

But based on the 12-minute presentation reel made available by Fox (the same network that airs "Idol"), it's like someone (Simon Cowell) took "American Idol" and revamped it, making it totally fresh and exciting.

The similarities between the shows are pretty obvious: "The X-Factor" is a singing competition show and two of the judges are Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. The biggest difference is that there's no age limit for the contestants. Also, groups can compete. And the first time the judges (Cowell, Abdul, former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, and former Chairman of Island Def Jam L.A. Reid) see the contestants, the singers are on a stage with full musical backup and a big, live audience. But even though the performers have presumably already made it through a round or two of auditions to get the spot before judges, that doesn't mean there aren't also some clunkers and weirdos (because they know we like that stuff too).

'X-Factor' lawsuit: Hyman vs. Simon

In case you missed it, there's a story in today's paper about a Durham resident's bad experience auditioning for Fox's newest reality competition series, "The X-Factor."

86-year-old Hyman Marks is suing the show, Fox Broadcasting and Simon Cowell because he wants another chance to audition under what he considers fair conditions.

Read the story for all the details, but also check out the video of Hy making his case and singing some songs (especially "Nothing Like a Dame" -- adorable).

'American Idol': Meet the new bosses ...

... and they're decidedly different from the old boss. The Simon-less "American Idol" debuted Wednesday and -- on first blush -- new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez settle in nicely.

In fact, "nice" seems to be the key emotion that "Idol" is going for as it launches its 10th season. With acerbic Simon Cowell gone, there's none of the nastiness that sometimes permeated previous audition rounds. (No one Wednesday was likened to a bush baby or a dying cat, for example.)

As the parent of a 10-year-old "Idol" fanatic, I can get behind this kinder-gentler show. Of course, as a viewer sick of hearing a bunch of screeching Carrie Underwood wannabes being let down easy, I yearn for at least one judge to speak the truth, too.

Also Tuesday, we still got most of the usual things that make TV's No. 1 show both addictive and maddening. Plus, a spunky young North Carolina contestant debuts.

Update on "American Idol" judge scramble

Ellen is out.

After just one season as judge on "American Idol," Fox has confirmed that daytime talk host Ellen DeGeneres is leaving the show.

Ellen says "Idol" never felt like the right fit for her and that she didn't like judging people and hurting their feelings. Ellen came to the show last season to replace Paula Abdul, and to be honest, there was much criticism of her contribution.

And now blogs are buzzing with rumors that singer/actress Jennifer Lopez has already agreed to take Ellen's place. Fox will neither confirm nor deny the rumors, so stay tuned.

Simon Cowell is also not returning to "Idol" so only Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardio remains.

UPDATE: Kara DioGuardio has reportedly also been fired from "American Idol," making Randy Jackson the only original "Idol" judge.

UPDATE: People Magazine reports that J-Lo has signed on to be a judge next season on "Idol," citing sources close to the show. TMZ says that Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler may also join the show.

'American Idol': A new Idol amid a lot of old faces

Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze? Which one should be declared THE "American Idol" of 1978? What, you mean this is not the late 1970s?

Well, you can forgive us for being a bit confused after seeing the big musical guests booked for the super-bloated "Idol" finale. Here's Alice Cooper. There's Michael McDonald. Next are the Bee Gees. And Chicago. Oh, oh here they come: Hall and Oates. We're just waiting for producers to roll out the Captain and Tennille at any minute.

Heck, even Mr. Bill, that old "Saturday Night Live" icon made of clay, makes an appearance. Oh noooooo!

Eventually, after stops in the '80s (Poison!) and '90s (Alanis Morrisette) and lots of lame attempts to make jokes about judge Simon Cowell's last show, "Idol" gets around to crowning its winner ...

What to Watch on Tuesday: Ellen begins work on "American Idol"

American Idol (8pm, Fox) - The auditions are over and the real show finally begins. The lucky contestants arrive in Hollywood to begin grueling rehearsals, and Ellen Degeneres joins the team as the fourth judge. There have already been rumors that she and Simon Cowell are clashing. Boy, I hope that probably-totally-true-rumor doesn't hurt the show's ratings (eye roll). 

Lost (9pm, ABC) - Kate is on the run and Jack must do something that will jeopardize a friend.

Past Life (9pm, Fox) - A new series in which people who are haunted by "past-life" events are helped by a psychologist and an ex-police detective played by Nicholas Bishop (right). The first episode involves a teenager who is troubled by memories of an abduction and murder which took place before his birth. To solve the case, the detective must first figure out who the teen was in his past life. Hey, anyone remember "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud?"

The Good Wife (10pm, CBS) - Alicia must defend a man accused of murdering a babysitter while she and the family await the results of Peter's appeals hearing.

The Jay Leno Show (10pm, NBC) - The good news is this is the last episode of NBC's awful primetime Jay Leno experiment. The bad news is, well, we all know what that is

Simon Cowell releases Haiti relief video and single

Simon Cowell hopes to raise relief money for the earthquake-ravaged people of Haiti with the release of a new single, "Everybody Hurts."

The new recording (originally by the group REM) features 21 artists, including Rod Stewart, Jon Bon Jovi, and Mariah Carey.

The single can be downloaded on iTunes and all proceeds go to Disasters Emergency Committee and The Sun's Helping Haiti Fund.

The video is pretty moving, with shots of the artists singing in the studio interspersed with images of suffering in Haiti. You can watch it below:

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