Simon Cowell Dishes on 'X Factor' - Exclusive Interview
The Brit entrepreneur, 51, took time out to chat with JustJared.com about the competition, its $5 million prize, the judges, comparisons to American Idol, his favorite artists, and even infamous YouTube sensation Rebecca Black.
Click inside for Just Jared‘s exclusive interview with SC…
JustJared.com’s Exclusive Simon Cowell Interview
JJ: How are you feeling leading up to the show’s big premiere – nervous, anxious, excited?
SC: All three, but you should be. It’s a different feeling from Idol. It’s slightly different if I’m being honest with you. I kind of have a few years doing [The X Factor] in the U.K. and I know the impact it’s had on people and what I’m excited about is that I know what the show is going to look like and I think it’s going to take people by surprise at how different it is to everything else. A talent show is a talent show, but this is a fun show to work on and I’ve been getting the word out because we want as many people to turn up because I want to find a star!
JJ: Why should an aspiring singer audition for The X Factor instead of Idol, The Voice, or America’s Got Talent?
SC: I think when you see the show in terms of the way the show looks and the performances and how they’re produced, the fact that you got people like myself or L.A. Reid mentoring you all the time you’re on the show means you hopefully get better week after week in front of millions of people. So by the competition ends, you got a really good head start. And there’s a massive open mindedness on the show. We showed that with the rules. You have to be at least 12 years old. Apart from that, you can be any age – you could be 100 and turn up for this show. You can be in a vocal group. You can be the next Boyz II Men. You could be the next Glee club. You could be the next Jackson 5. And on this show you walk away with $5 million cash. Not a bad prize, is it? I did that mainly to put pressure on us to find someone good and to say to these people that I’m not just talking about it. I really am willing to put my money where my mouth is. I really believe there is a star sitting out there so I’m ready to give the winner that much cash to prove my point.
JJ: I know you have to be tight-lipped on the other judges, but who would you love to see join L.A. Reid at the judges table?
SC: You have to have people you like, otherwise it’s a nightmare. Got to work with people you trust. At the same time, they got to be fun. You’re looking for a lot out of one person. I always take my time on these decision because if you make the wrong decision quickly, you’ll find out on the first day it doesn’t work and, I’ve been there, it’s horrific. We’ve had a lot of people contacting us. Sometimes on a daily basis and we’ve got to meet everybody. Now L.A. is on board so I’ve got to let him in on the decision process as well because he’s got to be happy. But I think we’re getting close and if it turns out with what I think it’s going to be, then I’m really happy.
JJ: What kind of dynamic are you looking for between the judges?
SC: [Laughs] They’ve got to be like a little army! I mean they have got a job to do. Everybody forgets that with judges. Everybody thinks they’re just there to be rude or to cry. There’s an actual role! You’ve got to have the ability to spot somebody who may have done a great audition and work out what kind of artist they should be if they haven’t done that themselves and what you can do to help them while they’re on the show to become a better artist and that’s part of The X Factor format – that the judges do work with the talent on a weekly basis as a mentor. If you get L.A., for example, as your mentor and you’re an aspiring singer, I mean, this is a guy who’s had more hits than anyone else in the world and he’s going to work with you on a one on one basis, that’s going to mean a lot to any artist on the show and I’d like to think that I can do the same.
JJ: So who’s your favorite recording artist right now?
SC: I think the three who are really on top of their game right now are Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Adele. All different. And you can’t anytime exclude Beyonce because she’s such a star and you have to include Justin Bieber for what he’s done to make pop music certainly interesting to a whole new generation, which is really, really important. You have to otherwise people get out of the habit of buying music and he’s made music for that generation exciting again and he’s a smart kid along with Willow Smith. I love Katy Perry because she’s a fantastic entertainer and I hope this show reflects that new level of artist. I think it’s really important we do that.
JJ: The show will no doubt be keeping you busy, but are there any other projects you’re working on or would love to work on?
SC: We have a TV company that’s always developing new formats and all the shows I’m on are developed internally. We have a new, big, big concept game show that’s launching in the U.K. in September, which we’re about to announce and I’m almost certain it will come to America very shortly. But that’s what I love doing. Developing and producing the shows [is what I] enjoy more than anything else.
JJ: You mentioned the Glee cast. What are your thoughts on the show?
SC:: I love it! I absolutely love what these guys have done. If you’d said to me three years ago there would be a glee-inspired show that would have this effect on modern culture, I wouldn’t have believed it. I think the guy who put it together is a genius. I think the cast is fantastic and I love the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously because music can sometimes get so dull and boring. I mean the fact that everyone’s getting upset about this “Friday” song of the moment is hilarious! It’s a song! Who cares!
JJ: Are you a fan of Rebecca Black?
SC: I think she’s genius! She’s got all of America up in arms. That’s fantastic. I want this show to reflect all the craziness that’s going on in the moment but not to be afraid of it. And let’s not forget $5 million to the winner. Very important! I’ve been on these shows before and you have two people standing there at the finale and they’re both thinking, ‘It doesn’t matter if I lose because I’m still going to get a recording contract.’ Well, this time it actually is important because it’s $5 million!
Catch Simon on The X Factor when it premieres this Fall!
FYI: Los Angeles auditions will be taking place on March 27 at the L.A. Sports Arena. Registration begins on March 26. Check out Fox.com for more information and to see the other audition cities!