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Britney to be US X Factor judge

Britney Spears is coming to the rescue of America's X Factor, the singing contest in search of a ratings boost.

The Grammy-winning pop star has signed on as a judge for the show's second season, a person familiar with the deal said.

Fox's X Factor debuted last year to ratings that fell short of creator Simon Cowell's sky-high predictions. The show's slate was wiped nearly clean in January when judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger exited, along with host Steve Jones.

That left Cowell and music producer Antonio "LA" Reid as judges on X Factor, which is based on Cowell's hit UK series.

Spears signed a one-year, 15 million-dollar (£9.3 million) contract, E! News reported, citing an unidentified source.

Fox declined to comment on Spears or other cast additions for the show.

Shock jock Howard Stern, however, did not hold back at a news conference in New York touting his own new TV gig. "I think Britney is going to stand there and eat a lollipop and wear a sexy outfit and I don't expect great opinions out of her. I'll tune in and see what kind of a train wreck she is," said Stern, who debuts on Monday as a judge on NBC's America's Got Talent.

Spears, 30, is a former child performer who became an international star with her 1999 debut album, Baby One More Time. More hits followed, including Oops!.. I Did It Again and Toxic, but her personal life was difficult, including rehab spells and time in a psychiatric ward.

Last year as she toured in support of her seventh album, the hit Femme Fatale, she said: "I hear the older you get, the wiser you get and the more you know what you want - so hopefully it'll be a good year."

The X Factor job comes at a time of change. In April, her fiance, Jason Trawick, got approval from a Superior Court judge to become a co-conservator over the singer, joining her father in that role.

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