Simon Cowell may be leaving American Idol after the current season but don’t think he doesn’t care about who his replacement will be. In a conference call Thursday with reporters, Cowell talked about who is right for his job, the rumors that he and Ellen DeGeneres are squabbling and why he thinks Lady Gaga should mentor the latest crop of Idol hopefuls.
There have been rumors that you and Ellen DeGeneres aren’t getting along. Could you address them?I wouldn’t say that we didn’t get on well. I don’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 said I turned up an hour late for something and that she wanted to film. 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 wasn’t a particular problem. There was no fall out. I was trying to guide her through the week and that was it really.
What do you miss most about Paula Abdul? Well Paula is my friend, amazingly, even though we used to argue a lot. She was somebody I got really close to over the years. We’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, so I do miss her.
What does it feel like to have say that you’re irreplaceable?It’s very, very flattering. I really do appreciate it. Like I said before, the show goes on. I’m going to feel sad when it all ends.
What kind of person could replace you?You have to be good looking. Secondly, you have to know what you’re talking about. I’m starting to realize with these shows that you have to put on that actually know what they’re talking about. Rather than guessing, they really have to have experience, so that you cannot just criticize — you can offer constructive advice as well.
How much music experience is required for the judging job? I think it’s really important. When we first started we had a record producer, an artist and an A&R man. So you’ve covered pretty much everything. I would say someone who has had managerial experience is always helpful. But in simplistic terms if you’re going to give a score you generally need to know what you’re talking about. I think over the years judges have been replaced by personalities. That in the long term will create problems because you’ve got to be able to spot a star. So whoever replaces me, my advice has always been find somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about.
How does that apply to Howard Stern?He doesn’t seem to fit any of the criteria. He’s played records. Maybe that’s a good qualification — that he’s played records and is a DJ. But he obviously wants the job. Good luck to him.
You’ve said need to be seasoned in the music business to be a judge. Are those comments directed at Ellen? I was thinking that … are going to misinterpret what I’m saying. I’ll tell you why I think Ellen is a good choice. She actually is very responsible for the who perform on her show. I know that for a fact because I’ve dealt with her as a record label. She loves music and she’s been an artist. No it wasn’t meant to dis her credentials. It was specifically talking about my replacement because my role on the show is as someone who has run a successful record label. So that was specifically for my replacement.
Is it important that a woman win this year? Depends what she’s like. We’ve had a few years now of guys winning the show. I would say that it’s definitely a better chance of a girl winning the show this year.
What would be the right type of woman to win?You want somebody who represents what’s going on at the moment. I’d love to find a Taylor Swift … somebody who is relevant rather than just a contest winner.
What mentors are you hoping to work with during the season? We should have Lady Gaga because she is the most relevant pop artist in the world at the moment. She’s very smart. I like her. Kevin Winter/Getty