X Factor ready to pop

X Factor judges Guy Sebastian, Natalie Imbruglia and Ronan Keating." link="/the-x-factor-australia/show/31979/summary.html" target="_blank" loc="right">

Seven is pulling out all stops for its new talent show, under the eyes of Simon Cowell.

The X Factor is looming as Seven's biggest entertainment production of the year.

The Seven Network has spared no expense in the budget, star power and promotions for this one -- and frankly, Simon Cowell didn't give them much choice.

Cowell is rumoured to have made Seven spend up big for the rights to his talent show and is insisting it adhere to the format he has established in the UK. After TEN's failure with the show in 2005 with judges Mark Holden, Kate Ceberano and John Reid, he knows he has one opportunity to relaunch the brand.

Cowell has sent his people to Australia to work with producers FremantleMedia Australia to oversee every detail.

The live shows to take place at Fox Studios in Sydney promise to be mammoth in their scale and there are rumours of international music stars being approached as part of a roll call of A-list special guests.

Judges Ronan Keating, Natalie Imbruglia, Guy Sebastian and Kyle Sandilands have already whittled down the list of contestants to six each. They have been culled through a "cattle-call" overseen by producers, performance auditions before audiences and a further "boot camp".

The next stage sees the judges determine their top three acts each, and some contestants will be jetting off on overseas trips to be mentored by some of the four. Simon Cowell has also been receiving video footage of the acts and is said to be impressed with the level of talent.

Then there is the media attention being given to host Matthew Newton, who has much to prove following his headlines and a stint in rehab. On the weekend he headed for the US, as part of the show's production.

The Xtra Factor will also screen on 7TWO immediately following the live shows to give a behind-the-scenes look.

Seven is yet to reveal the premiere date for the show but it is likely to be imminent, and kick off in an Idol-fashion with a series of city-based auditions. The winner of the show, either a solo or group vocal act, will land a record deal with Sony.

It seems pretty clear there will be nowhere to hide once The X Factor launches.

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