February 27, 2010 09:09 AM by Christine McDow
Recently, Simon Cowell of American Idol fame sat down with reporters to discuss the current season of American Idol, Paula Abdul, Ellen DeGeneres, his replacement on the show and the upcoming hit X Factor which he is bring to the United States from Britain.Â It is quite a humorous interview that we think you will all enjoy.
Question: When you look at the musical landscape of contemporary music at this point, does it seem important to you that a woman win this year?
Simon Cowell: It depends what sheâ€™s like. I kind of know where youâ€™re going. Weâ€™ve had a few years now of guys winning the show and I would say there is definitely a better chance of a girl winning the show this year, certainly than last year.
Question: What would be the right type of woman to win, do you think?
Simon Cowell: When you talk about the landscape, I think youâ€™re absolutely right; you want somebody who represents what is going on at the moment. Iâ€™d love to find a Taylor Swift, somebody whoâ€™s relevant rather than just a contest winner.
Question: Weâ€™ve heard that Steve Lillywhite, Howard Stern and Perez Hilton are people in the running, or think theyâ€™re in the running, as your replacement. Who of those people would be your pick? What do you think someone who would replace you would need to have?
Simon Cowell: Who was the first guy you said â€“ Steve Lillywhite?
Simon Cowell: The record producer?
Reporter: Yes. He made a video this morning.
Simon Cowell: Okay. Is he handsome?
Reporter: Heâ€™s fairly attractive.
Simon Cowell: Well, thatâ€™s not good enough, is it? You have to be good looking. Secondly, I think you just have to know what youâ€™re talking about. I think more and more now Iâ€™m starting to realize with these shows that we have to put people on the shows who actually know what theyâ€™re talking about rather than guessing. They really have to have experience so you donâ€™t just criticize, but you can actually offer constructive advice as well.
And Howard, I know Howardâ€™s name has been in there for a while, but Iâ€™m fairly certain that there hasnâ€™t been an approach at any time for Howard to do the show.
Question: What about Perez?
Simon Cowell: Perez â€“ Perez would be funny. You know, he has a good taste in music, heâ€™s a personality. I mean, that could work.
Simon Cowell: I wouldnâ€™t say that we didnâ€™t get on well. I donâ€™t know Ellen that well. It was a difficult position for her because she started work on the Hollywood Week, which is quite a difficult show to do. There was one story I read that I turned up an hour late or something and that she wanted to film. I mean, the truth was I think I turned up 15 or 20 minutes late because I did a press conference earlier in the day and they did start filming, but that wasnâ€™t a particular problem. But no, there was no fallout. I was trying to guide her through the week and that was about it, really.
Question: What do you miss most about Paula Abdul?
Simon Cowell: Well, Paulaâ€™s my friend. I mean, amazingly, even though we used to argue a lot, she was somebody I just got very close to over the years. Weâ€™d hang out together after the show. She always made me laugh; I always thought she was funny. It was just like not having your friend on the show anymore. I do miss her.
Question: Weâ€™re feeling pretty proud around here. We have four of the top 12 guys from Dallas/Fort Worth. Iâ€™m wondering if you can kind of size up their chances â€“ Casey James, Todrick Hall, Tim Urban and Alex Lambert. Do you think any of them might be front runners?
Simon Cowell: Yes. I think that guys are relatively equal. Iâ€™m not sure any of them are going to win, so Iâ€™d put them all in about an equal position at the moment. Four in and youâ€™ve got a good shot. Itâ€™s not a bad place to be.
Question: Yes. Really quickly, what does it feel like for the whole nation to kind of say, â€œThis guy is pretty much irreplaceable on the show? We donâ€™t know who we would replace him with.â€
Simon Cowell: Itâ€™s very, very flattering. I really do appreciate it. Like Iâ€™ve said before, the show goes on. Iâ€™m going to feel sad when it all ends, but look, itâ€™s much nicer to be popular than unpopular, so I do appreciate it.
Question: Hello, Simon. You just made a comment earlier about the qualifications that a judge should have, kind of knowing what theyâ€™re talking about. This is something that Howard has been going on and on about, about his qualifications. Iâ€™m wondering if you could be a little more specific about how much music experience is really required for the job.
Simon Cowell: Well, I think itâ€™s really important. Itâ€™s interesting that when we first started we had a record producer, an artist and an A&R man, so youâ€™ve covered pretty much everything you need to do. I would say somebody whoâ€™s had managerial experience is always very helpful, but in simplistic terms itâ€™s not if you judge the ice skating at The Olympics; youâ€™re going to give a score. You genuinely need to know what youâ€™re talking about. I think over the years judges have been replaced by personalities. That, in the long-term, will create problems because you have to be able to spot a star. So whoever replaces me, my advice has always been to find somebody who actually knows what theyâ€™re talking about and has actually experienced success in the music business.
Question: How does that apply to Howard?
Simon Cowell: As I was saying that I thought, â€œHe doesnâ€™t seem to fit any of these criteria.â€ Heâ€™s played records. Maybe thatâ€™s a good qualification, that heâ€™s played records. Heâ€™s a DJ.
Question: Simon, what can you tell us about what happened with Chris Golightly? How did he do? What do you remember from him in Hollywood Week?
Simon Cowell: I remember Chrisâ€™s first audition very well because Kara was completely and utterly besotted with him. I wasnâ€™t quite so keen on him and then the second time we saw him â€“ the second or third time, whatever it was â€“ in Hollywood week he wasnâ€™t as strong as he was on his first audition. I really honestly donâ€™t have a clue why heâ€™s been removed from the competition. Iâ€™m guessing itâ€™s some sort of technical reason. Itâ€™s a shame for him. He needed this opportunity.
Question: Would you let him audition on X-Factor?
Simon Cowell: I have to find out what the reason is, first of all. It was something like a technical reason, yes, of course he could.
Question: Since this is your last year, Iâ€™m wondering what mentors are you hoping to work with, if thereâ€™s anyone that you havenâ€™t gotten to work with yet or have on the show that youâ€™re just dying to have on.
Simon Cowell: Thatâ€™s a good question. Who comes to mind? Weâ€™ve had some pretty good people havenâ€™t we? I think we should have Lady GaGa because she is the most relevant pop artist in the world at the moment. I think she should be number one. Iâ€™ve met her and sheâ€™s very smart. I like her.
Question: Obviously, there are some really good singers this year. You guys did a good job picking them, but obviously some have less than what you would call Hollywood looks. So how do you balance whatâ€™s good for the TV show with whatâ€™s good for the music industry?
Simon Cowell: Again, itâ€™s a good question. I mean, the reason we put a variety of people through is I think primarily on talent and interest in them as people. I think if you just pick everybody because they look the way you think they should look â€“ it happened a few years ago. I remember every blond girl in the competition looked identical; I couldnâ€™t tell one from the other. I think itâ€™s important that you can recognize talent, personalities, so I think itâ€™s good that we have a mixed bag this year.
Question: The sob stories, do those have any impact on the judges?
Simon Cowell: Not really. Not on me. Iâ€™ve heard so many of them over the years. Itâ€™s about remembering people. Part of the problem when you do this show, from the auditions to the Hollywood round, is that most people you canâ€™t remember. If you can remember somebody, itâ€™s a good place to start.
Question: Atlanta is the home to General Larry â€œPants on the Groundâ€ I wanted to get your take on the whole phenomenon. It just sort of blew out into this worldwide thing.
Simon Cowell: You know, itâ€™s an interesting thing because when he came on the show, itâ€™s one of the reasons why on X-Factor we didnâ€™t put an age cap on the show. I always found a lot of these older contestants really funny, interesting, whether itâ€™s him or somebody like Susan Boyle. So I have to tell you, for him, Iâ€™m absolutely thrilled that all this has happened for him because he needed the break. Iâ€™m glad itâ€™s worked out well.
Question: Simon, youâ€™ve said a couple of times in talking about a potential replacement that they need experience in the music business, someone who actually knows what theyâ€™re talking about and whoâ€™s had success in the music business. Are those comments directed at Ellen?
Simon Cowell: Funnily enough, I was thinking that as I was saying this that people are going to misinterpret what I am saying. No. Iâ€™ll tell you why I think Ellen was a good choice. She actually is very responsible for people she has performing on her own show. I know that for a fact because Iâ€™ve dealt with her as a record label. And she loves music and sheâ€™s been an artist, so no, it wasnâ€™t meant to diss her credentials; it was specifically talking about my replacement because my roll on the show was somebody who has run a successful record label. So it was really specifically towards my replacement.
Question: Hello. Iâ€™m curious what you think two Boston round contestants â€“ Ashley Rodriguez and Siobhan Magnus â€“ need to do to stay in the running on the show.
Simon Cowell: I think you have to be original. I remember David Cook. The reason he did so well and suddenly came into the front when he competed was that he managed to find interesting versions of well-known songs and did them in his style. I remember the first time he performed a Lionel Richie song, Hello, and turned it into a rock song. Or he found the Chris Cornell version of Billie Jean. He was smart. I would say the same thing to these two contestants: donâ€™t always do the obvious; try to find something which is more unique and interesting to you.
Question: What weâ€™ve seen so far has been a lot of editing and stuff, but with the live show coming up I was just wondering if youâ€™re going to try to maybe take a driving instructor role this year and sort of just take the wheel when needed or if youâ€™re going to stay as visible as you have been.
Simon Cowell: Look, itâ€™s always frustrating, I suppose, on an edited show because itâ€™s an edited show. Thatâ€™s why I prefer doing live TV. What I always do when I do these live shows is not go in there with any sort of preconceived idea of what itâ€™s going to be like or what people are going to be like. Be in the moment and always do what Iâ€™ve done in my career, which is to hopefully make the right decisions. If that means disagreeing with people, I donâ€™t have a problem with that; I never have. You are there to be honest, truthful and hopefully give constructive advice. Most importantly, say what you think people at home are thinking.
Question: Even when we hear you sort of leaving, youâ€™re still going to stay as visible as you have been and not turn the reins over?
Simon Cowell: That would be impossible. No, Iâ€™ll keep to my seat. Iâ€™ll hopefully be the last one to speak. Itâ€™s always easier to be the last one rather than the first one. I want to go out on a high. I mean, Iâ€™ve said this over and over again, that itâ€™s my last season and I want it to be successful. Iâ€™ll do everything I can to make it happen.
Question: Iâ€™m doing well, thank you. Simon, there has been tremendous speculation about who could possibly replace you on American Idol. My question is has anybody contacted you personally about wanting the job? And, if you could choose, if you had your pick, who would be your dream replacement?
Simon Cowell: Well, youâ€™re never going to pick anyone as good as you, are you?
Reporter: Of course not.
Simon Cowell: So thatâ€™s why I donâ€™t think anybody really asks me that question. I mean, I can give general advice, as I said before on this conference call. I think the important thing is what I said earlier on – and youâ€™ve seen this on a lot of shows, you cover a lot of stuff â€“ you see people put in a role to play a certain role, which has become quite tiresome, when people always describe that person as the mean judge or whatever it is. You just have to find somebody who can actually make a difference to the contestants, whoâ€™s not afraid to speak their mind, whoâ€™s prepared to be honest and occasionally blunt, but not to be gratuitously rude. Iâ€™m really getting tired of all of that now. But look, thereâ€™ll be a lot of people, as you know, who want the job. I think ironically, itâ€™s going to help next season because I think thereâ€™s going to be a lot of interest as to who replaces me.
Question: Who could do it, in your mind?
Simon Cowell: Who could do it in my mind? If I really knew the answer to that question I wouldnâ€™t tell you.
Question: Has anybody contacted you about wanting the job? Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re getting a lot of calls.
Simon Cowell: No, I havenâ€™t actually. Iâ€™ve had a couple of calls, but they were quite boring people and never stood a chance. No, theyâ€™ll be contacting FOX, I think, if they really want this job. Or do what Howardâ€™s been doing â€“ just basically talking about it on his show I think is brilliant.
Question: So I know you say that you donâ€™t want to say who would like to replace you, but I have one. Iâ€™m on a mission. I want to see how you feel about this one. Noel Gallagher from Oasis. Heâ€™s crabby.
Simon Cowell: Noel Gallagher. Do you think people would understand him?
Reporter: If you subtitled him.
Simon Cowell: ‘If you subtitled him.’ I know Noel quite well and I like him. Heâ€™s very funny and he is a brilliant songwriter. Itâ€™s a possibility. Look, the good news for them is there is no shortage of candidates. There are a lot of people. The hardest thing, actually, about finding a replacement is that when you hear peopleâ€™s names like Madonna, it will never happen because you have to give a massive, massive time commitment. Thatâ€™s always been the problem when youâ€™re trying to find people to do these shows. You have to find people who are prepared to give up that much time.
Question: Donâ€™t you feel it has to be a British person? It seems like you set the trend that it has to be a British person, like a Piers Morgan or someone like that.
Simon Cowell: Again, Piers works for me and does a great job on Americaâ€™s Got Talent. This person specifically has to have a lot of experience in the music business. It is the most important thing. Thatâ€™s what I think will happen. I think theyâ€™ll find somebody who has that kind of experience, whether itâ€™s a manager, artist or â€¦ somebody like that, Iâ€™m sure.
Question: Thank you. Simon, do you have any closing remarks?
Simon Cowell: It was very short, but thank you, everybody. There were good questions. I hope it cleared up a lot of the rumors. Weâ€™ll do this again soon.