Cole ousted to make room for Scherzinger

The Fox reality series “The X Factor” hasn’t even aired yet, but the drama is already unfolding.

Cheryl Cole, the British singer tapped to be one of four judges on the music-competition series, has been replaced by one of the hosts, Nicole Scherzinger, according to published reports.

Fox declined comment.

Less than a month ago, Cole was selected to join a panel of judges comprised of “Factor” executive producer Simon Cowell, former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul and industry executive Antonio “L.A.” Reid. Scherzinger, formerly of U.S. group The Pussycat Dolls, was to co-host the program with British TV personality Steve Jones.

Managing the shift could prove tricky for Fox, Syco Entertainment and FremantleMedia North America because footage has already been shot of the original foursome serving as judges during the audition process in five different cities. The next round of auditions is scheduled for Thursday in Dallas.

There’s no word yet whether Cole, who also served as judge on the British version of “Factor,” will be present in Dallas or whether she will have any role in the show going forward.

Another question surrounds whether Scherzinger will be replaced as a co-host for Jones or whether he will go it alone.

The website TMZ, which broke the story, attributed Cole’s ouster to tension with fellow judge Abdul and concerns that her British accent would not be comprehensible to U.S. viewers.

In other Fox casting switcheroos for the fall, Saffron Burrows will exit her lead role in the upcoming drama “The Finder.” The actress appeared in the pilot that aired last month on Fox as part of “Bones,” which is spinning off “Finder” in the midseason.

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