'American Idol' Judge Also Has Three New Shows, and a Favorite Idol

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NEW YORK ( -- Simon Cowell, “American Idol’s” Mr. Nasty, is watching his Fox series steamroll everything in its path, including NBC’s Olympic Games. Mr. Cowell is hoping to find similar success with a couple of upcoming talent series he’s developing for other networks. “American Inventors” for ABC will have Mr. Cowell sitting in judgment on weird and wonderful business ideas. Also in the works with Fox is “Duets,” a show pairing celebrities and amateur singers in the “Dancing With the Stars” vein. And over at NBC, a broad-ranging talent show featuring everyone from vampers to ventriloquists is in the works. MediaWorks caught a few moments with the judge contestants love to fear.
Photo: Fox
Simon Cowell

MEDIAWORKS: Were you surprised “American Idol” has beaten the Olympics?

SIMON COWELL: I think we’re not really interested in watching Swiss people win. ... ["Idol"] is a better show this year. I called [Fox Entertainment President] Peter Liguori and [Fox Senior VP-Specials and Alternative Programming] Mike Darnell and said it will be the best auditions yet. It felt fresher than we’d seen in the past. Keeping the cameras rolling made it feel more like a documentary. If you look at the contestants on “Rock Star: INXS” on CBS, they’re forgettable. They were good singers but they were like background session singers.

MEDIAWORKS: “Idol” begins an additional nightly run on Thursday later this season. How certain are you that “Idol” can take on CBS’ powerful Thursday night lineup?

MR. COWELL: We will never take anything for granted. But I think “Joey” has been mortally wounded.

MEDIAWORKS: Can you give us your verdict on TV advertising that’s out there? What’s bad? What’s brilliant?

MR. COWELL: Bad: the one [for Cingular] with ["American Idol" host] Ryan Seacrest. The good: that Vanilla Coke ad. [Cowell appeared in that ad with Chazz Palminteri.]

MEDIAWORKS: Are you going to do any other commercials?

MR. COWELL: I don’t know. I don’t want to feel like I’m available for gigs, I don’t need the money. I turn down 95% of what I’m offered.

MEDIAWORKS: Do you get a slice of the product integration for ‘Idol’?


MEDIAWORKS: "Idol" judge Paula Abdul offered one contestant "bubbly water" earlier this season. Do you actually drink Coke?

MR. COWELL: All the time. ... I'm not sure what she had in her glass. I'm often wondering.

MEDIAWORKS: Any sponsors attached to “American Inventors” on ABC yet?

MR. COWELL: Amazon.

MEDIAWORKS: What brands do you like?

MR. COWELL: Rolls Royce to Mini, oh, and Giorgio Armani.

MEDIAWORKS: What’s on your iPod?

MR. COWELL: I don’t have one. The headphones are uncomfortable. It’s a bit like if you work in a fish and chips shop, you don’t want fish and chips for lunch. I don’t like listening to music all the time.

MEDIAWORKS: Do you ever get threats from the rejected contestants?

MR. COWELL: No, but a few of them mince into the dressing room to get things off their chest.

MEDIAWORKS: Who’s your favorite "Idol" from this season?

MR. COWELL: Kelly Pickler. As a human being, she is the one you want to do well. You feel like she deserves the shot.

MEDIAWORKS: Who is your American idol?

MR. COWELL: Frank Sinatra, he’s the ultimate American idol.

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