'X Factor' goes X-rated as singer's pants drop

FILE - In this April 6, 2008 file photo, Paula Abdul, left, and Simon Cowell are seen on stage at the "Idol Gives Back" fundraising special of "American Idol" in Los Angeles. A person familiar with negotiations for "The X Factor" says Paula Abdul will be the fourth judge on the new Fox singing competition. Abdul will be on hand for the Sunday, May 8, 2011 taping of the first judging session in Los Angeles, according to a person familiar with the talks. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because Fox and the show's producers had not authorized public comment. Widely expected, Abdul's participation reunites her with fellow judge Simon Cowell, her former sparring partner on the "American Idol" judging panel. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

September 16, 2011 10:39:11 AM PDT
On "American Idol," a contestant performed "Pants on the Ground." On "The X Factor," a singer dropped his pants to the ground and sent Paula Abdul running for cover. The man auditioned for Fox's new talent contest by performing his original song "I'm a Stud," pulling his pants down and dancing onstage in front of an audience that responded with boos. In a clip shown at a preview Wednesday night, a graphic of the show's stylized "X" was superimposed over his crotch.

The man, identified as Geo, may have thought underwear was optional.

A grimacing Abdul got up and retreated backstage. Fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger covered her eyes and then, like a spectator at an accident scene, took a peek from between her fingers. Panelist Antonio "L.A." Reid didn't mince words, calling the display disgusting, upsetting and offensive.

"Get him out of the building, please," Reid concluded.

After the man was shooed offstage and Abdul returned, series creator and judge Simon Cowell chided her for deserting her colleagues. She responded that she didn't want to look at a "hairy ass."

The scene was part of a preview Wednesday night of segments from two episodes of "X Factor," which debuts 8 p.m.-10 p.m. next Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 21-22, on Fox. The series is intended as a fall companion to the network's perennial spring hit, "American Idol." A brief shot of the contestant, standing pantless, was included in a promotional trailer aired Sunday on Fox.

In 2010, would-be "American Idol" contestant "General" Larry Platt performed his song "Pants on the Ground" to protest the trend of saggy, low-riding pants.

Like "Idol," "X Factor" is based on a British series and showcases singers ranging from the talented - a 13-year-old with a big voice among them, according to the "X Factor" preview - to the absurd. Unlike "Idol," "X Factor" allows groups, a wider age range of singers and will assign judges to mentor contestants.

Much is riding on the show: Fox is making it its centerpiece fall entry; Cowell left a comfortable spot at "American Idol" to bring his "X Factor" to America; and the winner gets $5 million and a record deal.