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Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell is ''American Idol'' star !

Simon Cowell is most famous to American audiences for his harsh and obnoxious criticisms on Fox's ''American Idol'' contest. Simon introduced the idea of a star search show in England, and appeared on UK's "Pop Idol", The X Factor as a judge too. He imported the idea into the U.S. in 2001 and it has been a nationwide success ever since. Simon Cowell was born on October 7, 1959, in Brighton, England and he is British. Simon Cowell’s music career is now infamous having, over the past 20 years, shaped what we consider to be modern pop music today. In the last 10 years, Simon, a BMG Record Executive, has been making and breaking records. Cowell has achieved sales of over 25 million albums, over 70 top 30 records and 17 number 1 singles. Simon became a celebrity in his own right for reducing a string of teenage wannabes to tears while serving as a judge on the UK version of the show, "Pop Idol."

Simon Cowell jokes his girlfriend has left him broke

Simon Cowell has joked that his current girlfriend has left him broke.

The 'American Idol' judge says, despite earning millions from his hit reality TV shows, Teri Seymour has squandered all his hard-earned cash.

He admitted: "I was broke about 15 years ago. And since I've met Teri I've become broke again.

Simon also admitted ever since he has became famous for his acid-tongued comments to wannabe singers, members of the public have been less than nice.
He added: "People don't like me. A woman reversed into me at 50mph the other day while I was in my Bentley."

Meanwhile, earlier this month, it was reported Simon was being guarded by security staff 24 hours-a-day after receiving over 500 death threats every week.

The 'X Factor' judge, who has reduced countless pop hopefuls to tears with his vicious jibes on both TV talent shows, has been bombarded with terrifying threats from the UK and the US warning him his life is in danger.

Cowell said: "I'm getting hundreds of emails every week and I have been threatened by people wielding baseball bats. People want to kill me."

Cowell couldn't remember if it was 'X Factor' or 'American Idol'.

The music producer was splitting his time between appearing on the British TV talent show and its US counterpart last year and admits it really started to confuse him.

He said: "I do far too much flying. I get horrendously jet-lagged.

Last year, we were auditioning in San Francisco for 'American Idol 4', and I actually thought I was on 'The X Factor'.

For a few seconds I thought I was back in England. I suddenly remembered looking at Paula Abdul and thinking, Christ, this is the American show!"
Meanwhile, Simon has admitted he prefers Paula Abdul to Sharon Osbourne.

The pop svengali, who has clashed with both women while judging pop hopefuls on TV, says he has more respect for Paula because she criticises him to his face while Sharon does it behind his back.

He said in an interview with Britain's OK magazine: "I prefer Paula. I find it easier to get on with her.

Sharon gobs off to the press the whole time - I think if you're going to say something to someone you should say it to their face."

Simon Cowell American Idol Will Kill Alicia Keys Career

COWELL: 'AMERICAN IDOL WILL END ALICIA KEYS' CAREER'

British music mogul SIMON COWELL has a harsh warning for ALICIA KEYS - he believes his reality show AMERICAN IDOL will kill her career.

Cowell, who serves as a judge on American Idol alongside PAULA ABDUL and RANDY JACKSON, admits that after three years of auditioning wannabe singers, he's become extremely fed up of hearing Keys' 2001 hit FALLIN' - and music itself.
He says, "I hate music now. I truthfully despise it. I honestly loathe it.
"When somebody walks into the audition room you can just tell before it even starts that it's gonna be a monstrous audition and you've gotta sit through this song. I ask the question, 'What are you gonna sing?' Fallin' by Alicia Keys, that's the song!'

"It's like a dark cloud going over the sun when I hear it mentioned because it's such an earnest song and it just goes on and on and on. I think our show is gonna kill her career. I can't hear it anymore."

Cowell, who has already banned contestants from performing R KELLY's I BELIEVE I CAN FLY, is also considering putting a block on Fallin'.

Simon Cowell Plans 5 New Shows

COWELL PLANS NEW TV SHOWS

British music mogul SIMON COWELL has secret plans for five new TV shows set to sweep the US and UK.

Despite reports the reality TV phenomenon has run its course, the 46-year-old - who has enjoyed incredible success with AMERICAN IDOL and X-FACTOR - insists there is still enormous potential.
He says, "If I look at the past I am on five per cent of what I want to achieve."
The acid-tongued judge is remaining coy about his plans - but has dropped hints of a "huge game show" and other "reality shows".

Mr. Nasty: Simon Cowell draws cheers, jeers and lots of money

After more than 20 years working his way up - behind the scenes - in the music industry, Simon Cowell sits center stage.

Cowell's withering putdowns of the overconfident and undertalented - first on Britain's Pop Idol, then on American Idol, which is now in its fourth season - have made him a celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic.

They have also made him very rich. He's worth a reported $85 million, thanks partly to a deal that lets him sign Pop Idol winners to his own record label. (Idol creator Simon Fuller handles their management and merchandising).

Cowell's success is built on a highly telegenic personality, plus a bluntness that has attracted and appalled millions of viewers and seen him nicknamed "Mr. Nasty" by the press.

"You sang like a ventriloquist's dummy," he told one hapless musical hopeful. To another: "My advice would be if you want to pursue a career in the music business, don't."

Cowell, 45, says he's simply being honest.

"My job is to try and say what I think the audience are thinking at home," Cowell said. "What I've said from day one on American Idol is, it doesn't matter how many people turn up, only two are going to be any good. So why give everybody else false hope, because it's such a tough business."

Cowell should know. Born in Brighton on England's south coast, he dropped out of school at 16 and got his first music industry job in the mailroom at EMI. Later he worked as an executive with the BMG label, signing the briefly famous Curiosity Killed the Cat as well as the boy bands Westlife and Five - acts that are little-known in the United States but scored multiple No. 1 singles in Britain and Europe.

Cowell showed a knack for working the kitschy, cartoony end of the pop spectrum, overseeing hit singles for two TV actors called Robson and Jerome and for the Teletubbies.

He says that populist touch has served him well.

"Part of the reason the music business has had problems are the so-called experts not giving the public what they want," Cowell said. "The public doesn't always want perfection. There's something else - it's the Barry Manilow syndrome, the Clay Aiken syndrome."

Cowell has little patience with critics who say Idol winners are disposable creations manipulated by svengalis like himself and Fuller. He says the success of Aiken, the geeky 2003 runner-up from American Idol, exemplifies the show's unpredictable appeal.

"Clay Aiken has been and probably will be the biggest-selling Idol artist ever - and he didn't fit the mold. He just so happened to be what the public wanted."

There have been misses as well as hits in Cowell's career. He famously failed to sign the Spice Girls, and didn't spot the potential in Take That, Britain's biggest boy band of the 1990s.

Cowell did not immediately see the allure of talent-show TV, either, turning down the chance to appear on Popstars, a British forerunner to Pop Idol, because, as he told an audience at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August, "I did not think we should be showing the manufacturing process of a group on TV."

He has since changed his mind, but still insists: "I wasn't particularly interested in being on television. I never really went into this - unlike a lot of people who judge these shows - to be a personality per se."

A personality, however, is what he has become. In Britain, Cowell is fodder for the tabloids, who note his penchant for high-waisted trousers and exhort him to marry his long-term - and reportedly long-suffering - girlfriend Terri Seymour.

The Internet is home to a clutch of Cowell fan sites, as well as one that allows you to punch him.

Cowell signed a three-year deal with American Idol in 2003 and has set up his own TV production company.

His latest venture is X Factor, a star-search show in Britain on which he acts as fellow judge and sparring partner to Sharon Osbourne.

(Cowell is being sued by Fuller, who considers the show an Idol copycat).

Cowell says that he is reluctant to plan far into the future.

"What I've always done in my job is to be reactive," he said. "When I saw Popstars, it was quite obvious there was a better show to be made, which was Pop Idol."

Simon sez (... everything, with brutal honesty)

As expected, tough talent critic Simon Cowell has more than "American Idol" on his mind. He sounds off on lip-syncing, pop fashion and who could take whom in head-to-head competition.
Yes, he has earned his reputation as the bad boy of television. The Brit talent manager turned American reality show icon is the reality check, the voice of brutal honesty and, sometimes, the dream destroyer for legions of wannabe pop stars on his hit show, "American Idol."

But Cowell, who this year also is a judge for our USA WEEKEND Songwriting Contest for Teens, can be surprisingly charming -- and, let's face it, he's usually right.

Judge for yourself with this exclusive Cowell sound-off.

Here's Simon on ...

What makes a star a star
It's talent, determination, selfishness, originality. And luck plays a big part in it. Take Britney Spears, landing that ... "Baby One More Time" song, only after TLC turned it down. You just can't account for that kind of thing when planning a career.

This season's "American Idol", crew
The guys are much cooler -- they take longer strides when they come in. They are not the particular kind of stage-school wannabe artists we are used to seeing. Fantasia really changed the competition, because she was a very credible, cool artist and wasn't seen as a pop brat. Thank God she won, because if the other girl had won -- Diana bloody DeGarmo -- that would have been a disaster. She was turning the show into a kind of pageant.

Regretting something he said
Very, very rarely. All I care about is giving an honest assessment.

How often he's impressed
Not very often. There's a girl called Katie Melua, who is kind of like an English Norah Jones. I also think [British soul singer] Joss Stone is terrific.

Talent -- it matters after all?
In the long term, absolutely. But we live in a world where weird things happen. I mean, if you told me an artist who isn't selling so many records can go on a reality show and pretend to be stupid -- saying she didn't know that Chicken of the Sea wasn't chicken -- and then off the back of that her sister will get a reality show and become a star ... It's not exactly plotting a career, is it?

Speaking of which -- Ashlee vs. Jessica?
Ah, God. There is no denying that Jessica can sing, but ... she turned herself into this dumb blonde, a bit like Marilyn Monroe. I like the sister.

Lip-syncing vs. sounding bad
I think it's about what the public wants to hear. It takes so long to make a record sound great in the studio. I was sitting at home recently, listening to Enrique Iglesias singing live on a late-night television show, doing the worst I'd ever heard in my life. I remember thinking, "Is it really worth it for the sake of credibility?"

The Prince-Madonna Syndrome
They've got 50-year careers because their songs stand the test of time -- the old ones, anyway. But they are still obsessed with plugging their new music. When you go see Madonna or Prince, you don't want to hear the new material.

Usher as the new Michael Jackson
I don't think he's as good as Michael Jackson at his peak, because you're not going to be listening to the Usher records in 10 years in the same way we listen to "Thriller" and "Billie Jean," because they still sound amazing. But he's a very switched-on, sensible, motivated guy. He's at the top of his game at the moment.

Usher vs. Justin Timberlake?
If I had to have one of the two, I would take Usher any day. The interesting thing about Justin is, he is a white boy who has tried to make himself black over the years. So you get the impression sometimes that he wants to be something he's not.

The pop-star look
I think image is important when it's a unique image. Eminem is a good example, because he's got his own thing happening, and it reflects his personality. In R&B at the moment, particularly with a lot of female singers, it is very difficult to spot the difference between 10 of them. They all have the same-sounding first names, or they all sound alike and dress identically.

Beyoncé vs. Alicia Keys?
Beyoncé has made one very, very good pop record, "Crazy in Love." [But] I went to see her in concert in Vegas, and I was bored out of my mind. Alicia is smart and a fantastic songwriter ... like a modern-day Carole King.

Singing movie stars
It's risky. Minnie Driver tried it recently and fell flat on her face. I can understand the popularity of Hilary Duff, and she sings well, and Lindsay Lohan will be a huge star. J.Lo was one of the first, but the interesting thing about her is that she's never made a great movie or a great record. But she's still a star.

FCC crackdowns on indecency after Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction"
Ironically, I think what happened helped Janet in the short term. She made a very weak album. There are other things to worry about, like so many songs pushing gun culture. When I was younger, I was never buying records telling me to beat a girl up or buy a gun. That's where you have real problems.

The death of the music video
They are less and less important, and their outlets are becoming smaller. I think only 5% of MTV's programming now is videos. The trouble is that they have become the equivalent of moving wallpaper. You notice them, but you can't remember them. If you asked me to describe an Usher video, I couldn't remember any.

Becoming rich and famous
Luckily, I'm in my 40s, so it hasn't turned my head in any way. It has helped my business. It's been fun, but I don't think it's going to last much longer.

Who we'll listen to in 10 years
Christina Aguilera. She is an unbelievable talent. Christina's "Beautiful" is one of the best pop records I have ever heard in my life.

His Grammy picks (for next Sunday)
I like Maroon 5. Usher will win everything, I'm sure of that.

Simon predicts ...
Over the next few years, you will see more emphasis on artists appealing to an older audience. No question about it. We are going back to an era when artists like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were selling to people 40-plus. That is why Elvis Presley and the Beatles were so successful -- because they were selling records to 18-year-olds and 50-year-olds.

Norah Jones is a good example, and that is why she has sold so many records. Josh Groban is another example, and Clay Aiken.

Mark my words.

 

Cowell's Fellow Judges Fear For Their Lives

SIMON COWELL's fellow AMERICAN IDOL judges are terrified his acid-tongued comments will get them shot by angry contestants.

Extra security features have already been installed to reduce the risk of fatalities during the current auditions for the second series of Cowell's hit reality TV show.

Fellow judge PAULA ABDUL says, "Do you think I want to get shot?

"We have security in the room that are standing by.

"Sometimes, when we don't think that they may be a little harmful, the security men are kinda edging towards getting the kids out of the door before we can even dismiss them."

 

Cowell Rates Usher Over Timberlake

British music mogul SIMON COWELL deems USHER a better performer than JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE - because the 'N SYNC frontman tries too hard to "make himself black".

The heart-throb singers have been longtime chart rivals, prompting fierce debate among their respective fans, but Cowell believes Usher is the better of the two.

He says, "If I had to have one of the two, I would take Usher any day. The interesting thing about Justin is, he is a white boy who has tried hard to make himself black over the years. So you get the impression sometimes that he wants to be something he's not."

But Cowell is quick to shoot down any talk that Usher is the new MICHAEL JACKSON.

He adds, "I don't think he's as good as Michael Jackson at his peak, because you're not going to be listening to the Usher records in 10 years in the same way we listen to THRILLER and BILLE JEAN, because they still sound amazing.

"But he's at the top of his game at the moment."

Simon Cowell Slams DeGarmo

British music mogul SIMON COWELL has launched a scathing attack on AMERICAN IDOL runner-up DIANA DeGARMO, claiming the show would have been a "disaster" if the schoolgirl had won.

Georgia-native DeGarmo, 17, lost out to FANTASIA BURRINO, 20, in the third series of the TV talent show, much to the delight of judge Cowell.

Cowell says, "Fantasia really changed the competition, because she was a very credible, cool artist and wasn't seen as a pop brat.

Thank God she won, because if the other girl had won - Diana bl**dy DeGarmo - that would have been a disaster.

"She was turning the show into a kind of pageant.

Simon Cowell Slams Past 'Idols'

Music mogul Simon Cowell reportedly launched a blistering attack on past "American Idol" winners during a heated phone call with the reality TV show's executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz.

The BMG Records boss was overheard complaining that 2003 winner Ruben Studdard and 2004 victor Fantasia Barrino were undeserving of their recording contracts, and warned Frot-Coutaz that this year's contest will again be full of untalented wannabes.

An eavesdropper at Los Angeles' L'Ermitage Hotel tells Page Six, "He said that there is very little talent in the pool of contestants that made it to the finals in Los Angeles.

"[Apart from a Missouri country and western singer] he said the rest were just a bunch of 'untalented Usher wannabes' and predicted the show would end up again with 'someone like Ruben or Fantasia' winning.

"He said 2002 winner Kelly Clarkson was the only one with talent who ever won."

Also...

Cowell was so shocked by how fat he looked on TV, he's hired celebrity lifestyle guru Carole Caplin to help him get into shape.

The "American Idol" judge signed up with Caplin -- adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie -- to help him shed weight, and he is already reaping the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.

Cowell says, "I took a look at myself on telly one day and thought, 'I just look too damn fat!' so I went about doing something about it. I just cut right back, don't eat puddings now and just generally do more exercise."

Cowell's New Enemy Speaks Out

TV's Mr Nasty SIMON COWELL has a new American enemy in advertising bigwig-turned-TV host DONNIE DEUTSCH.

Deutsch delivered a rant about Cowell when he had his fellow AMERICAN IDOL judge PAULA ABDUL on his chat show, THE BIG IDEA on Wednesday (26JAN05).

He blasted, "I wanna kick his butt... He's just too much. There's something about the guy.

"I think he can accomplish what he wants, you just don't have to be that mean. It's painful to watch."

Adbul agreed, "(He makes me) break out in rashes. I have creams for that now."

Simon Cowell's furious bust-up Paula Abdul!

Simon Cowell had a furious bust-up with fellow judge Paula Abdul on the latest episode of 'American Idol' - before she stormed out of an audition.

The music mogul repeatedly clashed with Abdul after he left a host of pop hopefuls devastated with a series of cruel jibes about their performances.

Eventually the 80s pop star branded Simon - who has been dubbed Mr Nasty because of his vicious put-downs - a "jerk" before storming off the set, in New Orleans.

After Abdul walked off, the music guru was left red-faced as he sat next to Kiss rocker Gene Simmons - who is also a judge on the panel.

Only last week, Simon was branded an "a**" by Abdul after he reduced a host of contestants to tears on the show.
The record producer was also punched by his fellow judge on the first episode of the hit TV talent show after he left one religious contestant - who told Simon she had been "singled out by God" to win the competition - devastated by telling her: "Trust me. God did not want you to win this contest."

Simon Cowell TV's Top Earner

COWELL NAMED BRITAIN'S TOP TV EARNER

Music mogul SIMON COWELL is British TV's top earner after amassing a massive fortune of $34.2 million (£18 million) last year (04). The 45-year-old's pay has set a record amongst celebrities in Britain, superseding his fellow X FACTOR judge SHARON OSBOURNE's salary by $20.9 million (£7 million).
The Top Ten TV Earners in 2004 are:

1. SIMON COWELL - $34.2 million (£18 million)

2. JOHN MAHONEY - $33.4 million (£17.6 million)

3. ANNE ROBINSON - $19 million (£10 million)

4. JANE LEEVES - $14.9 million (£7.85 million)

5. THE OSBOURNES - $13.3 million (£7 million)

6. GRAHAM NORTON - $12.92 million (£6.8 million)

7. JERRY SPRINGER - $11.4 million (£6 million)

8. JAMIE OLIVER - $9.12 million (£4.8 million)

9. CHRIS TARRANT - $8.83 million (4.65 million)

10. PETER KAY - $8.55 million (£4.5 million)

American Idol Pulls In 33.5m Viewers

Even Sharon Osbourne must admit her arch-enemy Simon Cowell can do no wrong.The latest series of American Idol - in which acid-tongued Cowell is a judge - has pulled in an astonishing 33.5m viewers.The figure is the highest ever for an opening night in US channel Fox's history, gaining a whopping 42% of the audience share.

It has only been beaten by America's traditional highest-rated 'show' - the Superbowl.

Show creator Simon Fuller admitted he is gobsmacked at the large audience. "This is almost unbelieveable," he said. "When TV viewers turn on in such numbers you know something special is on."

And Cowell - a household name on both sides of the Atlantic - was straight into his stride, calling one group of hopefuls "overweight and talentless".

Simon says 'American Idol' like Super Bowl

Simon Cowell is looking his smug and self-satisfied self, sporting — surprise! — a trademark black T-shirt and tightly pressed denims. In keeping with Cowell’s sullen slacker look, the mood in the room at the semi-annual gathering of the Television Critics Association is appropriately surly.

The first question elicits a mixed chorus of laughs and hisses — not unlike a typical American Idol outing — and Cowell gives it back as good as he gets it. There’s more where that came from, too — from both sides.

Last year, Cowell is told, the problem with the men on American Idol was not that they didn’t have the opportunity. “It was that they sucked. What exactly are you guys going to do to make sure that the gender quota is more evenly divided this time?”

“Pray to God?” Cowell replies.

“I think the prayers are working,” a perky Paula Abdul counters. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” Ah, yes, Paula Abdul — ever the optimist. The routine may be familiar, but it hasn’t got old.

Yet.

American Idol is coming off a resurgent third season, that rare example of a hit show that gains in popularity as it ages, and as it prepares to raise the curtain on its fourth season tonight (CTV and Fox). Abdul, for one, is convinced this year’s ensemble of would-be Ruben Studdards and Kelly Clarksons is collectively the most technically accomplished group of all the singing Idols.

Abdul, dressed to the nines, as if to offset Cowell’s midlife-crisis-meets-Adam-Sandler look, credits the stronger field to the success earlier this year of Fantasia, the artist formerly known as Fantasia Barrino.

Fantasia, with her unique voice and uncanny combination of gospel, soul, funk and hip hop, went a long way toward dispelling the buried snobbery toward the Idol format, Abdul says.

This time, some genuinely talented singers have chosen to hang their fate on the whims of Cowell, Abdul, Randy Jackson and the TV audience watching at home. City auditions in St. Louis — first up in tonight’s premiere — and New Orleans in particular were unusually strong this time around.

“New Orleans was the bomb,” Jackson says.

“New Orleans was killer,” Abdul concurs.

Las Vegas, on the other hand, was a nightmare — the musical equivalent of a special guest appearance by Kenny Loggins, Cowell says.

Ah, yes, Simon Cowell. It wouldn’t be American Idol without a few crabby comments from Cowell — an entire website has been devoted to “Simon Cowell’s Greatest Hits” — and although Cowell is initially sluggish at the press conference, it isn’t long before he warms up to the feeling in the room, particularly after questions like, “Can you just tell us what you’re looking for this year so we can get out of here?”

“Wow,” Jackson replies. “That must have been some party last night.”

Cowell is undeterred. “I’ve often described this show as the musical Super Bowl,” he says, “and often a great Super Bowl depends on who’s in the final. We have to try to do the same thing here, and not take it for granted.”

That means a few tweaks along the way. Instead of voting in the top two in each group to make the final 12, this time viewers will vote out two singers each week, meaning that those who remain will appear in the show from beginning to end, instead of vanishing for up to weeks at a time.

Also, Cowell says, “one of the judges is going to get killed this year. But I can’t tell you which one.”

“It won’t be me,” Jackson says.

Cowell’s off-colour remarks still land him in trouble. His remark of a team of triplets during tonight’s St. Louis auditions that they resemble “three overweight Jessica Simpsons,” doesn’t go over well with the critics’ contingent in the room this day. Is body image relevant to whether someone can sing or not, Cowell is asked.

“Oh, OK,” he replies. “I apologize.”

He’s being facetious, in case you can’t tell.

But wait, he’s just getting started. “I don’t like your shirt,” he adds.

What?

“I don’t. I don’t like the shirt you’re wearing.”

“He’s from a different universe,” Jackson says. “It’s OK.”

“I’m kidding,” Cowell says. “You know, the point is, this is showbiz. We shouldn’t take it too seriously. I always say this about American Idol: If you don’t want this kind of controversy, watch Star Search instead. It’s safe. The great thing about American Idol is that it’s fun. And, besides, we get to say what I think most people at home are thinking.”

Cowell spotted “a William Hung backlash” early on this time around, in which genuinely bad singers auditioned just for the laughs, and potential post-show notoriety. They were easy to weed out, however.

“It’s important that the good ones are genuinely good,” Cowell says, “and the genuinely not so good one are, well, genuinely not so good.”

Hung’s landing a record deal didn’t offend Cowell’s musical sensibilities in the slightest.

“It’s how (host) Ryan Seacrest got the job he has,” Cowell says. “We encourage job opportunities on this show.”

“If he and I can do it,” Seacrest says, nodding toward Cowell, “anyone can.”

Cowell claims he tried his hardest to bury the hatchet with the celebrity guest judges this year. In the past, he threatened to quit the program, saying the guest judges demeaned the judging process. This time, every celebrity guest judge brought something to the dance.

“Every one of them.”

He’s being facetious, in case you can’t tell.

“We spent Christmas together,” he adds.

Some celebrity guest judges surprised him with their musical taste and breadth of knowledge.

“Gene Simmons,” he says. “Gene Simmons, in particular, was superb.”

Is he serious?

“Oh, yes.”

American Idol is back. With apologies to Paul Williams and Roger Nichols, they’ve only just begun.

Cowell wants to do away with age cap for `Idol' contestants

Demographics be hanged, says ``American Idol's'' Simon Cowell.

There should be no age cap for contestants on `Idol,'' despite the fact that Fox targets viewers who think life ends at 35, says Cowell, the nasty Brit on the show's three-judge panel.

`Idol's'' fourth season, which launches at 8 p.m. EST Tuesday, has upped the outer limit two years, to 28.

``If it's 28, why not 29?'' Cowell, 45, said in an interview Tuesday after addressing TV critics gathered here. ``If it's 29, why not 30? On the record charts, there's no age limit for being a hit artist, as Rod Stewart just proved.''

In Cowell's view, it's a mistake to program for a specific demographic. (See Heresy, network.)

``It's a funny thing about 18- to 34-year-olds. My gut is that when you don't aim at them specifically and aim at everyone, they'll still watch. It's always a danger when you try to target an age group in TV or music. I would never do it.''

Fellow judge Paula Abdul, 42, seconds the motion. ``It would be awesome to have no age limit. Why not? I don't think there should ever be an age limit on talent.''

Speaking of talent, Cowell predicts that Clay Aiken will have the longest career among all `Idol's'' contestants. ``More than anyone, he understood why he won, who watched the show, and what people who watched the show want to buy.``

On the other end of the rainbow, Justin Guarini, season one's mop-topped silver medalist, crashed and burned ``because he believed his own hype.''

``I think he was a very good wedding singer. He thought he was the new Usher. He was actually more Barry Manilow than Usher, but he didn't realize it.''

Though `Idol'' doesn't allow lip-synching, Cowell's cool when someone like teen idol Ashlee Simpson fakes it (and gets caught) on live TV.

``When Leo DiCaprio promotes `Titanic,' you don't build the ship. I know how long it takes to get a great vocal on a CD. Sometimes it takes months. They can't do it every night. If it sounds better lip-synching, who cares? I don't think it matters on a TV show.''

Cowell's nastiness is well-chronicled. (Call it the Cowell Scowl.) He blasts contestants' appearance along with their talent, or lack of it, ignoring smacks and dirty looks from Abdul and Randy Jackson.

``I never get tired of being a (jerk). I'm English. We're all (jerks). It's the way we've been brought up by our parents. We're very repressed. We're a strange country.''


Simon Cowell Considered Sex With Abdul

Simon Cowell fell for fellow AMERICAN IDOL judge Paula Abdul when they first met - but couldn't bear the thought of waking up in bed next to her.

The pair have become sworn enemies on American TV, where they bicker about talent and reports they're destined to become lovers.

But Cowell, who is dating British TV star TERRI SEYMOUR, reveals, "When I first met Paula I thought, yes, you're very cute and it (sex) did cross my mind but then I realised I'd have to wake up next to her and I couldn't do it only because we'd have to talk.

"I just don't think it would be a great conversation. We're better off as friends... But she still wants me."

Cowell Keeps New Classic Cars Away From His Girlfriend

American Idol judge and The X Factor boss SIMON COWELL has treated himself to a fleet of classic cars - and he's forbidden his longtime girlfriend TERRI SEYMOUR from driving any of them.

Cowell recently bought himself a brand new ROLLS ROYCE, two BENTLEYS, two MERCEDES and an ASTON MARTIN, and he's determined to keep them all well away from his girlfriend of two years - because she's a terrible driver.

He says, "The most irritating thing that can happen on a car, and this is a guy thing, is someone chips the wheels, and she managed to do three in one day, so she's now banned. It's public transport.

"She is a dreadful driver - the worst driver I have ever come across in my life. She still doesn't realise you have to drive on the opposite side of the road in America."

Usher not a big Cowell fan

The new series of 'American Idol' hit screens last night (Tuesday) in the States.

It's got the same judges - Randy Newman, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell - and they visited seven cities and saw 100,000 people audition.

Despite over 340 million votes placed last time, this series has been livened up by getting guest judges, such as Kiss singer Gene Simmons and Brandy involved in the early audition rounds.

However, they already have one celebrity critic, Usher - he says the show is misleading:

"It gives the audience that is watching the chance to see that success can happen."

"However, I think that it can be misleading because success doesn't happen overnight, and what does that do for the artists that don't make it and aren't as successful?"

"But, I guess that is the reality of this industry - you can be on top of the world one second and lose it all in the next."

Pop Idol Boss Simon Cowell blasted split reports

Simon Cowell has blasted reports he is splitting up with his girlfriend. The 'Pop Idol' judge slammed rumours he was set to break off his two-year romance with former model Terri Seymour in an interview with American TV host Jay Leno.

Speaking on 'The Tonight Show' he said: "Terri and I are still together.
"But according to the papers we have split up about 200 times. We just enjoyed a fantastic holiday in Barbados. But people are jealous of Terri's success and think she is getting that only by being with me."

Last weekend, it was claimed that stunning Terri had allegedly threatened to kill herself if the millionaire record boss broke off their relationship. But friends of the acid-tongued TV host claim reports that the couple were set to split were accurate - because 31-year-old Terri has had enough of Simon allegedly cheating on her.

One source said: "Stories of their split are not that far from the truth. Terri has put up with a lot. There have been lots of other women."

Meanwhile, Simon says that letting Terri date him is the best gift he has ever given her. The reality TV show judge admitted that sexy Terri was desperate to settle down and start a family with him - but he claimed the only thing he would give her was the opportunity to romance him. He said: "The most expensive gift is letting her go out with me. That's priceless."

Idol's Simon Cowell still quite a charmer

Some of the stuff Simon says! Cheeky Brit Simon Cowell was at his quotable best in a chatty and catty press scrum immediately following a session yesterday to publicize American Idol's new season, which starts tonight on CKY and Fox at 7 p.m.

Asked by one critic if he ever got tired of being a "prick," Cowell shot back: "I'm English -- we're all pricks. We have a history of being pricks. It's the way we were brought up by our parents -- very repressed. In every way."

Asked if he thought Saturday Night Live lip syncher Ashley Simpson could win the Idol competition, he said, "she'd have to sing, wouldn't she?" Then a rare second thought. "I have to defend her," he said. "I know how long it takes to get a great vocal in the studio. Sometime it takes a month. They can't do it every night."

He doesn't think a little vocal cheating for TV is such a big deal. "I could care less. You'd be surprised how many well-known artists (do it)," he said. "All the big ones, or a lot anyway."

Which American Idol discovery would have the biggest career 10 years from now, he was asked. "Clay Aiken, and do you know why?" he replied. "Clay understood more than anybody else on this show why he won, who watched the show and what the people who watch the show want to buy."

Cowell said earlier during the session that he would "never in a million years" have offered Aiken a recording contract -- and he would have been wrong. Aiken hit a middle-of-the-road demographic that just isn't being served on radio, said Cowell. People who hate MTV and love Michael Bolton -- "that's who he's selling to."

On the other hand, there's Kelly Clarkson. "One minute she's singing Celine Dion -- and she did incredibly well with that -- and then she's an R&B artist after she's won the competition," said Cowell. "If you understand what made you popular you have a better chance at long-term success, and I think Clay understands that better than anybody else."

Then one of those goofy questions: Would be like to be a TV critic? "I sort of am in a way, aren't I?" he said, neatly sidestepping the giant pay-cut thing. "I'm like you guys. You get to say what you're thinking and I get to, too."

In a too-safe, PC world, TV needs more shows where, "we can tell someone who's ugly we think you're ugly," he added. "Otherwise it all gets a bit boring and safe, and I can't stand that.

"You gotta always look at this show with one raised eyebrow," he said. "It's a fun show to do, and you must never take it too seriously. We all know that the majority of the people who turn up on a show like this are completely disillusioned, and this is a bit of a reality check.

Cowell to split with girlfriend

Simon Cowell is to split with girlfriend Terri Seymour, after becoming tired of her "obsessive attitude".

Cowell decided that the relationship had run its course during a holiday in Barbados over the Christmas break. However, the X Factor and American Idol judge is apparently planning to give Seymour £1 million to get out of his life.

In a heart-to-heart talk, he allegedly told her, "When we started going out it was fun - but it's not any more. It's not fun for you and it's not fun for me. So what's the point?"

Simon's final gift to Terri is designed to set her up with her own flat, once she moves out of his £5 million home in London.

A friend told the Sunday Mirror, "Simon may want out but he is a decent guy and wants to take care of Terri. Each time he has tried to end it before, Terri has become very emotional begging him not to end it.

"She has tearfully said, 'I come from nothing, I can't go back.' After all, she has been a huge part of his life as he became a worldwide star - and she deserves to benefit even after they split up.

"The more she pesters him with emotional calls, the more irritated he becomes. He is fond of her but wants out now."

'Idol' readies prickly-nice 4th year

The complaints about perpetually busy phone lines and other voting irregularities in "American Idol'' are all music to Simon Cowell's ears, and everyone knows how picky his ears are when it comes to music.

"The minute we've lost our controversy, I think we've lost a hit show,'' Cowell said Monday, a little more than 24 hours before the hit program's fourth-season launch at 7 tonight on WFLD-Channel 32. "So when it goes wrong, in my opinion, it goes right, which is why I'll always fight about sanitizing the show. In other words, it's a reality show and you have to allow for things to go wrong -- and they will.''

Fox and "Idol'' producers take the stance that nothing is broken with the No. 1 series in prime time last season, so there's no reason to fix the voting system. Their tweaks for this season have less to do with issues of fairness and technological limitations than packaging and promotion.

"We can expect to see some declines [in the ratings],'' Fox boss Gail Berman said. "I think that's only natural for a fourth-year show. What surprised me last year, as a third-year show, is that we saw it grow. We certainly don't expect to see that.''

The age limit for this year's would-be Kelly Clarksons, Ruben Studdards and Fantasia Barrinos has been bumped up to 28, and there will be two extra tryout-city cattle calls. The big changes will come in the middle part of the contest, where the field of 24 semifinalists -- 12 men and 12 women -- will be halved over a three-week period in which the show will air three times a week beginning Feb. 21.

One night will feature the men competing, another will feature the women and the third show each week will present the results with two men and two women sent home from their respective groups. Wildcard berths, like the one that gave Clay Aiken a second chance to compete after he was voted out by viewers, have been eliminated.

A problem for "Idol'' in past seasons was that semifinalists would advance two at a time and then vanish from the show for weeks, causing ratings to slip. This keeps the singers still in contention continually on the air and in front of America.

"You're going to be able to get to know these contestants a lot better,'' said Paula Abdul, who always seems to see the world through rose-colored contacts.

Abdul looks to continue to embrace the "speak no evil'' role among the "Idol'' judging trio this season, while Randy Jackson seems happy in the "hear no evil'' part. Cowell is another piece of art altogether, maybe Munch's "The Scream.''

"There's something magical about this season,'' Abdul said, relentlessly pounding the drum. "I think this season is going to be magical for all of you to watch.''

"If the public chooses the right winner this year, it will be the best 'Idol' yet,'' Jackson declared, picking up the beat.

Meanwhile Cowell, bless him, called Kenny Loggins, one of this season's celebrity guests, "the judging equivalent of Valium.''

It falls to Cowell to say what much of the audience is thinking, even if the audience is presumably too polite to say it out loud. One competitor on Wednesday's show of St. Louis auditions is told that her voice sounds like she's on helium. Singing triplets are dissed as three "overweight Jessica Simpsons,'' even though body type has never seemed to matter much on "Idol.''

Asked about the triplets, Cowell struggled to recall his remark. ("He forgets what he says,'' Abdul sniped. "Of course, they don't ever forget.'') Then he apologizes, but added: "My attitude is, you think it you say it. And I don't like your shirt.''

"I can't remember all these people,'' he said. "You get it right, you get it wrong when you're out there, to be honest with you. Many, many times I've watched it back on TV and thought, 'You idiot ... Paula.' ''

Cowell said it's not his fault he's this way. "I'm English -- we're all [jerks]. We have a history of being [jerks]. ... It's the way we've been brought up by our parents.''

But "Idol'' surely owes much of its success to that trait, and Cowell is the first to admit his opinion is no more or less important than anyone else's, even if he's absolutely certain he's right.

"You've got to always look at this show with one raised eyebrow,'' he said. "You must never take it too seriously.''

These days he will tell you that 10 years hence, second-season runner-up Clay Aiken is likely to have the strongest career of any "Idol'' finalist to date.Yet he also will admit that he, like the viewers who voted Aiken off the show early, had no idea of his potential early on.

"I would never ever in a million years have offered Clay Aiken a recording contract if he walked into my office the way I [first] saw him [and] I would have been wrong, because the competition has turned him into a star,'' he said. "Unpredictability is the key to making great reality TV.''

Simon Cowell branded an "a***"

Simon Cowell was branded an "a***" by Paula Abdul after he reduced a host of pop hopefuls to tears on the new series of 'American Idol'. The music mogul - who has been dubbed Mr Nasty because of his cruel put-downs - was also punched by his fellow judge on the first episode of the
hit TV talent show after a series of cruel jibes.

He told one contestant: "You dress better than you sing and you got dressed in the dark." And he left another hopeful, Melissa Considine, from New Jersey, weeping after telling her: "Singing involves giving pleasure - you can't. You also look like you have been dragged through a bush."

Another religious contestant was left distraught after telling Simon she had been "singled out by God" to win the competition only to be told by the music guru: "Trust me. God did not want you to win this contest." However, not all the pop rejects on the wrong-end of a tongue lashing from Simon took their attacks lying down.

TV bosses, at the Fox network, were forced to edit out parts of the show after a number of singers joined Abdul in launching tirades against the
judge telling him to "f**k off".

Simon Cowell Mystified By Beyonce Success

COWELL SLAMS BEYONCE'S SINGING - AND BODY

SIMON COWELL has dealt BEYONCE KNOWLES the ultimate blow - by attacking her singing skills and much-celebrated curves.

While CRAZY IN LOVE beauty Knowles attracts millions of admirers the world over with her looks and vocals, British music Cowell has yet to understand the allure of the 23-year-old star.

He tells ESQUIRE magazine, "I find the whole Beyonce thing really mystifying.
She's not sexy, she hasn't got a great body and she's not a great singer."

But Cowell cools off his attack when he speaks of pop star ASHLEE SIMPSON, who's lip-syncing and howling vocals have drawn much criticism recently.

He adds, "Why should you have to do something substandard just for the sake of being real? If it sounds better with the vocal you recorded, why shouldn't people listen to that? There's almost a witch-hunt mentality about people miming."

Simon Cowell Looking For Teenage Songwriter

Cowell Searches For Teen Songwriter

SIMON COWELL is teaming up with AMERICAN IDOL winner FANTASIA to select and launch the career of a budding teenage songwriter.

Cowell - who serves as a judge on the TV talent show - and Fantasia are calling on talented youngsters in the US aged between 13 and 18 to enter the USA WEEKEND SONGWRITING CONTEST FOR TEENS, where the grand prize will include a $1,000 (£525) Savings Bond, a mobile phone/MP3 player and music production equipment.
The winner, who must wow judges with original song lyrics, will also get a chance to attend this year's (05) season finale of American Idol. Participants have until 17 February (05) to enter

Simon Cowell: Sharon Osbourne Has A Crush On Me

COWELL: 'OSBOURNE IS IN LOVE WITH ME'

POP IDOL creator SIMON COWELL has accused his fellow X FACTOR judge SHARON OSBOURNE of being secretly in love with him.

The British music mogul claims the reason the pair fight so much on-screen is because Osbourne is seriously attracted to him.

He says, "I think Sharon's got a real crush on me. I do!
"I see her looking at me in the same manner a dog looks at a tin of dog food. It's like, 'I want it!'

"I do think Ozzy would actually give her away.

Simon Cowell: Can Jack Osbourne Spell Slimeball?

JACK OSBOURNE SLAMS COWELL JACK OSBOURNE has launched a scathing attack on British music mogul SIMON COWELL, labelling the AMERICAN IDOL judge "a slimeball"

The 19-year-old reality TV star still hasn't forgiven Cowell for accusing his father OZZY's near-fatal quad bike crash last year (DEC03) of being a "publicity stunt".

And Jack was astounded when his mother SHARON announced earlier this year (04) she would be joining Cowell as a judge and mentor on British talent show THE X FACTOR.
Jack fumes, "I didn't want my mum to do X Factor. It was pretty yellow-bellied to go on a show with a guy who's said so many nasty things about her family and kids.

"But she went on and the show is...interesting. Simon Cowell is a slimeball."

Cowell's spokesperson responds, "I'd be amazed if Jack could spell slimeball, never mind understand what it means."


X Factor's Simon Cowell Caught Snogging Beauty Queen

COWELL'S KISS FOR CASH

British music mogul SIMON COWELL sparked talk of cheating on his girlfriend TERRI SEYMOUR earlier this month (NOV04), when he was photographed smooching an Australian beauty in London.

The AMERICAN IDOL judge was snapped sharing a lip-lock with TV host TANIA ZAETTA on her 30th birthday outside trendy eatery Cipriani on 15 November (04)

But rumours were quickly dampened when it was revealed that Cowell was dared by a diner at the restaurant to smooch the beauty in return for a $1,000 (£550) to British charity CHILDREN IN NEED. Cowell's publicist MAX CLIFFORD says, "Simon didn't need to be coaxed. He knew photographers were watching, but... Simon enjoyed every second of the dare!"


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