Simon Cowell interview: This season 'Idol' more interesting, better quality
By April MacIntyre Dec 18, 2008, 17:16 GMT
Simon Cowell spoke to reporters on a conference call yesterday about the new season eight of American Idol premiers on January 13th and January 14th on FOX. © Janet Mayer / PR Photos
Simon Cowell spoke to reporters on a conference call yesterday about the new season eight of American Idol premiers on January 13th and January 14th on FOX.
Cowell says the suicide of Paula Abdul’s superfan, former contestant Paula Goodspeed, is “absolutely the worst thing …Here’s a girl who’s obviously had some horrible, horrible issues in her life and the fact that it ended it in the way it did, it is a complete and utter tragedy…It’s terrible.”
He also responds to Abdul’s recent accusations that he talks in her ear to distract her during Idol. “Yeah, I do a little bit…I get bored so I whisper things and make things up during the auditions and the live shows…But she chooses to say it…I’m not responsible for everything she says.”
Simon spoke about the fourth judge dynamic and what he thinks will make it work this time. “Well look, I have no idea whether this is going to work or not. I haven’t seen the show back yet. It’s only when I watch the show back whether we actually know if this has been a good idea or a bad idea, “said Simon.
“The thing I do support is at least trying new things. Sometimes it works and as you said before, sometimes it doesn’t work. That’s the delicious thrill of making reality television – you genuinely don’t know.”
He shared his opinion that a male contestant will win this season. “When you do the Hollywood week, which we did about a month ago, you get to see all the contestants for a second time. My memory of that was that the guys overall – maybe five or six of them – were just stronger and they stood out more than the girls. I’ve said this in the past: I’ve been wrong. Somebody like a Kelly Clarkson can emerge in the middle stages, which you’re not expecting. Still, anything can happen.”
The crop of new contestants this season appealed to Simon. “My feeling, having done the Hollywood round, was we have an interesting bunch. Where I think we got a little bit stuck last year, it was kind of like battle of the blondes and they all looked the same.
I couldn’t differentiate one from the other. This year there seems to be more personality. They’re definitely standing up for themselves more, which I like. They’re different from the people we’ve had before. I’m actually happy and I’m optimistic about this year. I could be wrong.”
Kara, the new judge was brought up and he spoke about what she brought to the table. “Well, she has experience. She’s written hit songs. She has an opinion, which is very, very important. She talks a lot. I think she’s probably well qualified.”
Simon elaborated, “At least she knows what the end process is and what you have to do to turn somebody into a recording artist. She’s obviously not snobby about this kind of music, which some people can be, with this kind of process. At least she’s not going to look down on the process, which is a good thing.”.
Simon shared how the new season was mixed up to prevent a boredom factor with the contestants. “Well, we tried to be as broad and as open minded as possible so that we don’t end up with 12 people from the Stepford Wives. I think it’s important that we have all types of singers, all types of people because I have to say, I think personality is as important as talent on a show like this. What you hope you end up with is somebody like Fantasia, who’s not only extremely talented, she’s an incredible person, has a great vibe and makes the show interesting. We tried, where we can with what we had, just to get a more interesting group of people. “
Simon spoke of his reaction to Paula’s claims that Idol producers let her alleged stalker audition for the show knowing she was a stalker. “Well look, because we’re talking about a tragedy here. I really don’t like referring to this person as a “stalker” because I don’t think that we can talk like that about somebody, so let’s refer to her as what I did, which was a fan. What happened was awful."
"My regret in all of this is that we didn’t know how troubled this person was. If I could have gone back in time and known what she was going through, I wish that we could have spent time trying to help her, but we genuinely didn’t know. I want to say this: The process on how we select on American Idol is they’re open auditions.”
Simon explained further. “We don’t research people. It’s everyone turns up because they want to be on the show. I would assume everyone who auditions for American Idol knows, also, what it’s like to audition, i.e. if you’re not very good, you’re going to get criticized. Often, if I have the time, we will go and talk to the contestants beforehand, before they even audition, and say to them beforehand, “Look – welcome to American Idol. If any of you don’t like criticism, please don’t come into the audition room,” and nobody’s ever left. “
Then he issued a statement. “On behalf of the producers, I want to say this: These guys have the utmost integrity as human beings. We wouldn’t work for them if they were the kind of people who would deliberately do something like that. We’ve taken them on their word that they didn’t know that this person was as troubled as she was. We have had fans come into the show before. Talking about the producers in the way that they’ve been portrayed is unfair. It was their decision two years ago to do Idol Gives Back, which raised $120 million for people. These aren’t bad people. All they want to do is make a successful show. I spoke to them after the incident. They were absolutely horrified. I can’t point fingers at them and say that they knew everything about this person, because I genuinely don’t think that was the case.”
Simon also revealed he was under siege from the women on the show.
“Well, Come on. You have two girls ganging up on you. One is hard enough; two is unbearable. They’ve both got personalities, they’re both very forceful and you have a … At least I’ve got Randy by my side, so it’s not that bad.