It's been 20 months since Simon Cowell appeared at the Television Critics Association press tour to announce that he was departing "American Idol" and that a FOX version of "The X Factor" would premiere in the fall of 2011.
"The X Factor" will finally launch on Wednesday (September 21) night on FOX and for many, the show's format and its differences from "Idol" remain a bit of a mystery. 
Fortunately for FOX, then, the x-factor in this new singing competition's success is likely to be Simon Cowell himself. And Cowell, of course, is as well-known a quantity as there is on television.
I sat down last week with Cowell, who serves as judge/mentor/producer/creator on "The X Factor," to talk about transplanting his British smash to American soil, a conversation that touched on Paula Abdul, Justin Bieber and why "X Factor" will be able to dodge the rut that recent "Idol" winners have fallen into.
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.