'The X Factor': Paula Abdul on 'connection' and her reunion with Simon Cowell
But even though she was at the auditions FOX showed the audience, she still found herself getting caught up in what was on the screen.
"The thing that happens when you see it for the first time is you don't pay attention to anyone else's experience because you're experiencing it," Abdul tells Zap2it. "But what amazes me always is the story. The show really sums up all the right elements to be connected. To be emotionally connected is really key -- you have to care about the people you see on stage. I was really there in the moment, and I was tearing up with everyone else, and laughing, and cheering. It was exciting."
"The X Factor" knows how to pull at heartstrings. FOX screened a mashup of the first two episodes that was heavier on highs than lows, but it becomes clear pretty quickly that even more so than Abdul's and "X Factor" creator Simon Cowell's last collaboration, "American Idol," that the show is about crafting stories around the contestants.
"It's well-produced," Abdul acknowledges. "... And you're just seeing the tip of the iceberg here. There are so many hours of footage that they probably could have edited 10 first episodes."
Fans will probably be tuning in Wednesday (Sept. 21) at least in part to see Abdul and Cowell spar again, and they won't be disappointed -- there's a healthy amount of the banter/friction/affection that is the hallmark of how they work together on camera.
"I wish I could say it was so difficult, but d**n, it was easy," she says of teaming up with Cowell again. "It's like a fungus that you just know so well, and it spreads.
"Seriously, I'm having the time of my life. It's like getting on a bike again. I was nervous at first -- when this show airs next week it will have been [two-plus] years since we sat next to each other. That's a long time. But it's been fantastic, and I'm filled with gratitude. He's been a man of his word. The night that I resigned from 'Idol' is the night he started contacting me."
"The X Factor" premieres at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday on FOX.