He's the man everyone loves or loves to hate. Simon Cowell’s sharp-tongued critiques of contestants is one reason “American Idol” is having its biggest season ever. Now Simon and “Idol’s” executive producer, Ken Warwick, are looking for a new type of talent on a new NBC show.
Simon says they are looking for the best entertainer or entertainers in the country. They're ripping up the rulebook this time with no age limit for contestants.
They are encouraging singers, magicians, dancers, jugglers, dog acts, ventriloquists, and any self-proclaimed entertainers to apply. The winner will take home a hefty $1 million dollars. Simon and executive producer Ken Warwick discussed the new show with Rita.
RITA COSBY, HOST, "LIVE & DIRECT": Is this the biggest that you’ve ever offered?
COWELL: Biggest I’ve ever offered. It’s the biggest talent search we’ve ever done. And to be honest with you, Rita, what we’ve done with “Idol,” is what we’re trying to do here. Kenny is the executive producer on “Idol” with me and on this show and we’re trying to find stars. That’s what we always set out to do.
COSBY: How is this going to be different than “American Idol”?
KEN WARWICK, PRODUCER, “AMERICAN IDOL”: “Idol” is singers, obviously. This new show is absolutely anything and everything. If you have a talent, if you’ve been something in your front room and everybody said, “That’s fabulous, you’ve just got to go somewhere and do something with that,” then we want to see you.
COSBY: How is it working with the guy next to you? Is he as harsh and tough off-screen as he is on screen?
WARWICK: No, no, no.
COSBY: He’s worse?
WARWICK: It’s a laugh a minute, Rita, which is a good thing, which is why a lot of what we do works. It’s spontaneous. It happens there and then. That’s what it’s all about. It either works or it doesn’t work but, you know, most of the time, it does work.
COSBY: What do you make of all the Web site chatters? You know, Simon, there’s this new Web site. It’s VotefortheWorst.com, also DialIdol.com, where they actually try to influence voting on “Idol,” also try to predict votes on “Idol,” and also the winner. What do you make of that?
COWELL: When you’ve got 40 million votes coming in a week you can’t possibly change the results. The good ones are going to be there until the end, and the bad ones are going to go. It’s not going to make any difference.
WARWICK: It’s when they stop talking that we start to worry, Rita.
COSBY: Do you think scandal helps, guys? There's been a lot of scandal around “American Idol.” Has that helped the ratings?
COWELL: Of course. We love it.
COSBY: Simon, let’s talk about Paula, because she’s even admitted that she’s acting a little weird, but she says you’ve been whispering in her ear, and that’s causing her to act strange on the air. Any truth?
COWELL: Well, I whispered a couple of things in her ear. I wasn’t expecting her to say it, however, on air. I mean, when she says to me, “What should I say?” And I whisper some made-up Chinese expression about moths and melons, you can’t expect her to believe it and then say it on the show. So you can’t blame me for that.
COSBY: Some people say she’s drunk. Is she drunk?
COWELL: No, but, look, Rita, she’s been like this for five years. I mean, that’s the way she is.
WARWICK: You know, and we quite like the fact we never know what she’s going to do.
COWELL: I agree. I love it.
WARWICK: You know, it’s great. And the fact that you’re bringing it up warrants it being there, you know?
COSBY: You’re right, everybody’s talking about it. You’re right.
COWELL: And no one’s spoken about Randy since he’s been on the show. Randy, you never mention him.
COSBY: Simon, what about your top three predictions? You made a prediction a while back of who you think is going to be the top three. Are you sticking with that same prediction now?
COWELL: Yes, I’ll stick by it. It was Kellie, Taylor and Chris. I think that sounds fair, that sounds safe.
COSBY: What about Mandisa? The other night, you were saying how sexy and great she is.
COWELL: Yes, she’s getting better. And this Katharine girl seems to be getting better. I mean, look, I said this months ago. This will be the most open competition we’ve ever had.
WARWICK: There’s nothing worse than knowing who’s going to win. You know, when Fantasia one, everyone was saying, “Oh, Fantasia’s going to win right from the beginning of the top 12.”
WARWICK: We don’t want that. We want it to be a competition.
COWELL: Yes, and it will be a competition.
COSBY: You still think it’s going to be those same three? You’re still sticking to your prediction?
COWELL: Yes, I’ll stick by it, yes.
COSBY: And who do you think is going to win? What’s your prediction on who’s going to win, who’s going to take it all?
COWELL: I have a horrible feeling that the public is going to vote for Taylor, and I would prefer Chris.
COSBY: You’d prefer Chris?
WARWICK: It's all subjective.
COSBY: Yes, what do you think, Ken? Who do you think, if you had to name it today?
WARWICK: I don’t know. No, I’m not allowed to. But I will tell you now: They are definitely the most talented kids we’ve ever had on our show.
COWELL: I’ll give you an exclusive, what he said to me this morning: Kenny has predicted either a boy or a girl will win this year.
COSBY: Kellie Pickler, you love Kellie Pickler. Why do you love Kellie Pickler so much?
COWELL: Because she makes me laugh. She’s a bit raw, and she’s funny. Yes, I like her.
WARWICK: She is funny. She’s entertaining.
COSBY: Is she faking it or is she the real deal, you guys?
COWELL: Well, look, none of them are faking it, Rita, but they’ve all become a bit more media-savvy than previous years, so, you know, they’re playing it, all of them, to the cameras. They’re very aware of what they’re saying, all of them.
COSBY: Speaking of scandals and stuff, what’s your relationship with Ryan Seacrest like off the camera? Because it looks a little biting in front of the camera.
WARWICK: Exactly the same.
COWELL: I’ve got to tell you, we’re actually good friends, but when we go out, it’s exactly the same as on the show. We just make fun of each other.
WARWICK: It’s actually a competition, Rita, to see who can wind each other up the most when they actually get to the show.
COSBY: And who do you think is winning, Ken?
COWELL: I mean, we’re very lucky.
WARWICK: Simon, Simon. Definitely Simon.
COSBY: You know, one of the former idols, person who’s been in the news a lot, Clay Aiken, all these rumors that he’s gay, then you’re seeing him with women. What do you make of these rumors, Simon?
COWELL: Gay rumors about him? No.
WARWICK: Is that good news?
COWELL: No, it’s all...
WARWICK: More gossip.
COSBY: What do you make of all the talk about Clay Aiken lately?
COWELL: Oh, who cares? Honest to God, who cares? I mean, what people want to be, they can be anything. One way or the other, Rita, but I couldn’t care less.
COSBY: The “American Idol” numbers were huge. A lot of people thought they couldn’t get any bigger. Why is it still so enormously popular, guys?
WARWICK: It’s down to the kids, to be honest, Rita. You know, every time that door opens, just when you think you’ve seen it all, you think you’ve seen the best singer, the worst singer, the funniest singer, the most off-the-wall person, the door will open, and in will come another story. And this season has just been particularly strong.
COWELL: I thought it was about me.
WARWICK: Yes, well, that, as well.
COWELL: That’s what you told me. So it’s not about me?
WARWICK: I’m sorry, mate, no.
COSBY: Isn’t it always about you, Simon?
COWELL: Show business, so two-faced.
WARWICK: And Simon, Rita, OK? Otherwise he won’t turn up on Tuesday.
COWELL: Kenny’s right. You know what? It’s not politically correct. It’s real reality TV. It’s life.
WARWICK: It’s a world made good. It’s what happens at the time that you sing. That’s it
COSBY: Big fans of both of you guys. Thank you, both.
COWELL: Thanks, Rita.
WARWICK: Thanks, Rita. Cheers.