Interview with 'American Idol's' Simon Cowell: Yes to Gaga, No to Howard Stern
Thursday, February 18, 2010
It may be Simon Cowell's final season on American Idol but don't expect
the caustic Brit to take a backseat in his judging duties or critiques.
Simon is still Simon, as evidence by the smarmily charming interview he
just conducted with members of the American Idol press.
I sat in on the
conference call where Simon fielded questions about his Idol
replacement, the Top 24, rumors of a feud with Ellen, and his dream
mentor for season 9 of American Idol. Simon answered them all with the
wicked wit that has made him a household name and that will make him so
difficult to replace on American Idol. Here are the highlights from the interview.
Is it a woman's year to win Idol?
"Depends what she's like. We've had a few years of guys winning and
there's definitely a better chance of a girl winning this year than
last. You want somebody who represents what's going on at the moment.
I'd love to find a Taylor Swift. Somebody who's relevant instead of
just a contest winner."
You seemed to be displeased by Shelby Dressel's elimination, how often are you over-ruled?
"Well this is a difficult one because it all happened so quickly. I
think in hindsight, it would have been easier to have five or six days to
think about it [Hollywood Week], but we had a limited time and decisions were made
relatively quickly. And when you watch back, you think 'I should of made a
different decision.' [It's not unique to Idol] This happens on the shows I have in other
countries. There's always a moment you feel like you made the wrong
What are the requirements for whoever replaces you on Idol?
"You have to be good
looking. You have to know what you're talking about. We have to put
people on these shows who know what they're talking about rather than
guessing, so you cannot just criticize but offer constructive advice. I think over the years judges have been replaced by personalities and that
in the long term is a problem, because you have to find a star. It's like if you judge the ice skating at the Olympics, you need to know what you're talking about. So my advice is find somebody who actually knows what they're talking about and has experienced success in the music business."
What about possible replacements such as Howard Stern and Perez Hilton?
know Howard's name has been floated, but I don't think
there's ever been an ask. He doesn't seem to fit any of those [above] criteria. He's played records, he's a dj, so
maybe that's a good qualification. He obviously wants the job, so good luck to
him. Perez would be funny. He has
good taste in music, he's a personality, that could work."
What do you say to the cry that you're irreplaceable?
"It's very very flattering. And I really do appreciate it. But like I
said before, the show goes on. I'm going to feel sad when it all ends.
It's much nicer to be popular than unpopular."
Who would be your dream replacement?
"You're never going to pick anyone as good as you. I think recently you've seen judges put in a role to play a certain role, and
that becomes quite tiresome. 'Oh, he's the mean one.' You have to find somebody who can actually
make a difference to the contestants. Someone who can be honest and
occasionally blunt, but not too gratuitously rude."
Who would be a dream mentor for season 9?
"We've had some pretty good people already, haven't we? I think we should have Lady Gaga, because she's the most relevant pop artist in the world at the moment."
What about rumors of a feud with Ellen?
"I wouldn't say we didn't get on well. I don't know Ellen that well and it
was a difficult position for her. She started work on the Hollywood Week and that's a rather difficult show to film. There was a report I showed up an hour late. I think I showed up 15 or 20 minutes
late, because I did a press conference, but that wasn't a problem. There
was no fall out."
What do you miss about working with Paula?
"Well, Paula's my friend. Amazingly, even though we used to argue a lot,
she's someone I got very close to. We hung out after the show, she
always made me laugh, I thought she was funny. It's not working with your friend anymore. I miss her."
What are your thoughts on "Pants on the Ground?"
"Well, you know, it's an interesting thing. It's one of the reasons on X Factor why we didn't put an age cap. I always find these older
contestants really funny and interesting, whether it's Larry Platt or Susan
Boyle. And for him, I'm absolutely thrilled. Because he needed the
break and I'm glad he's doing well."
Seeing that it's your last season, will you be handing over the reigns or stepping back your visibility as a judge?
"That would be impossible for me to do it. I'll keep my seat, I'll
hopefully be the last one to speak. I want to go out on a high. I've
said this over and over again, it's my last season and I want it to be
Any advice for the Top 24?
"I think you've got to be original. I remember David Cook, why he did so
well and why he came into the front, was he managed to find interesting
versions of well known songs and did it in his style. He was smart and
I would say the same things to this season. Don't always do the obvious,
do something interesting. And suck up to me. That always helps."
(Image courtesy of FOX)