In between auditioning contestants on Day 2 of "The X Factor" taping at Nassau Coliseum, the four celebrity judges held a news conference that almost -- but not quite -- turned into a love fest.
Simon Cowell, returning judge Demi Lovato and new judges Paulina Rubio and Kelly Rowland sat in a row of chairs and exchanged compliments as well as barbs -- the latter directed at Cowell.
After promising more girl groups among the contestants this fall, Cowell upped the snark factor when asked how New York compares with other parts of the country where he's held auditions. Cowell shot back: "Insane." Cowell explained, "You get good people here and you do get a few nutty people."
Being the only male judge among three women will keep "The X Factor" from going into a rut and add warmth he believes the show has lacked, Cowell said. That brought a response from the women.
"It's three women up here. We're supposed to be the divas, but he is," Rowland, a former member of Destiny's Child, cracked about Cowell.
"We look like divas, but you act like one," added singer-songwriter-actress Lovato.
Rubio, a Latin singing sensation from Mexico, had her own take on the famously snarky Cowell: "My little sisters and I do great girl power and we are better than Simon in many ways."
There were signs, though, that the ribbing was all in good fun. At one point Rowland gave Cowell's chin a gentle rub. Said Rubio: "I believe we have a great chemistry together."