American Idol premieres in less than a month on FOX. It will undoubtedly once again be the highest-rated and most talked about series on American television. One of the biggest reasons (perhaps the biggest reason) for American Idol’s enduring success has been the presence of acerbic Brit Simon Cowell at the judges’ table. Cowell is American Idol’s breakout star and always has been, even more so than any of the stars American Idol has created over the years. This morning, Cowell took some time out of his busy schedule to hold a conference call with the press. He discussed the addition of new judge Kara DioGuardi, what we can expect from this year’s crop of singers, and the Paula Goodspeed tragedy, among other things. You can read the highlights of the conference call below.
Simon wasn’t crazy about the last couple of years, with the smaller group of finalists. He likes bringing back the Wild Card stages.
Simon says the guys were better than the girls, by a long-shot, during the Hollywood rounds. After Hollywood, Simon thinks they have an interesting group of finalists, different from people than they’ve had before.
Apparently they are adding a new Emmy category for Best Reality Show Judge. Simon says it’s a good idea if he wins the Emmy, bad idea if he loses.
Simon on new judge Kara DioGuardi: Kara has experience, is opinionated, has written hit songs and she talks a lot.
The judges tried to be as broad and open-minded as possible when selecting the finalists. He thinks personality is as important as talent for a show like American Idol.
Simon doesn’t like referring to Goodspeed as a stalker, given the tragedy. He regrets that they didn’t know how troubled she was. He wishes they could have known, and then tried to help her. The process of open auditions doesn’t allow research for people. Oftentimes, before the bad singers audition, they’ll warn them that if they don’t like criticism they shouldn’t audition. Simon also vouches for the integrity of the producers. He doesn’t like how they’ve been portrayed in the media recently.
Simon says the two female judges ganging up on him hasn’t been that bad.
Simon’s been happy with the album success of both David Archuleta and David Cook. He says that success always depends on the material.
No Idol Gives Back this year. One reason is that it doesn’t feel right to ask people in a economy in recession to give money. They’ll be doing it again, just not this year.
RE: Paula’s comments criticizing Simon. He admits guilt, but that’s their relationship. He doesn’t think her remarks were as pointed as they are being interpreted as.
In the wake of the Goodspeed tragedy, Simon has thought a lot about maybe tempering his criticisms of the contestants. After reflection, he thinks they should continue on as they have in the past. He believes they’ve gone through it with a sense of humor. Also, he thinks the process is worth viewing for the audience. If you’re not good, you should find a normal job, etc.
Simon says they try every year to get Paul McCartney on the show, but to no avail so far. He loved having people like Lionel Richie and Quentin Tarantino on the show, and would welcome them back. They recently had Beyonce and Britney on the British version and loved them.
He loves breaking the ties, the other judges hate it. There have been a few ties, a few arguments.
Simon thinks Chris Daughtry changed things for the rockers on the show. A lot of so-called rockers show up and are clearly fake. He’s not surprised at Idol singers being successful in different genres, like rock and country.
To Simon, personality is just about as important as talent. He thinks last season had a lot of singers who didn’t have great personalities and didn’t speak their minds. This is the year, he believes, that the singers fight back.
Simon loved it in Salt Lake City. The city, the air, the people. He was very impressed with the talent. He was expecting a more serious place, but it was quite fun.
Simon says he had never spoken to Kara prior to her hiring for Idol. The judges had no say in the matter, she was just brought on.
Simon doesn’t think that there are as many ringers in the mix as there were last year. He prefers to have newer talents, who haven’t been in the industry. He didn’t mind having people like Carly Smithson on the show last year, however.
Simon says Britney would be first on the list in terms of possible mentors or just as a performer.
Simon says all the cities this season represented themselves well. No stand-out awful city, so stand-out great city.
He loves that FOX hasn’t been greedy with Idol, and has resisted the urge to put on twice a year. Simon says he’ll continue to do the show until they’re not welcome anymore. He thinks American Idol can continue without him and be just fine.
Simon doesn’t remember the Paula Goodspeed audition. He vaguely remembered the audition after seeing it on the news. He reminds us that there are always seven security guards in the room, and they can stop the audition at any time.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)