A rather jaunty Simon Cowell, who’s bringing a U.S. version of his British hit The X Factor to Fox on Sept. 21, talked to reporters Tuesday about his experience filming so far. “I would say the American audiences are more vocal,” he said. “When they like someone, they let you know. And they certainly let you know when they disagree with you. There were a few occasions when we had to – otherwise I may have gotten seriously injured – bring back certain contestants we’d said no to.”
Will this aggression stand, man? It will! “We did say to [the audience], you’re like the fifth judge here. So it was fun, and everywhere we went, the crowds were good. Better in the evenings, because you could feel that they were drunk. I might do that for the live shows – just make everybody drink.”
More from reality TV’s newest boozehound after the jump:
On whether American Idol can win the reality competition Emmy this Sunday: ”I’d find it very amusing if after all these years, the year I wasn’t on, it would win the Emmy. I think that would make me laugh. So it probably will. If it does win this year, it’s for all the years we did before. So whatever happens, I’m gonna claim the victory, and replicate the Emmy and just put my name on it.”
On audition songs that should be outright banned: “ ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ is pretty up there. ‘At Last,’ I’m kind of allergic to that song. Everybody seems to think ‘Unchained Melody’ is my favorite song of all time. It is not. Jason Mraz, that hit he had a few years ago – I cannot listen to that anymore. Also, ‘Ordinary People’ by John Legend. They always try to sing it like that version. It’s never good.”
On the many voices of Nicole Scherzinger: “Paula can be a bit wacky at times, but Nicole wasn’t far behind in a fantastically self-centered way – which she wasn’t aware of and I found really amusing. Every city we went to, she changed her accent. In New York, she had kind of this Brooklyn thing going on. In Dallas, she was a southern belle.”
On man’s best friend, Paula Abdul: “Within five minutes of when we start filming, she’s not aware that the cameras are on anymore and she’ll fight with you over something – sometimes important, sometimes not. Kind of like getting an old dog back from the rescue pound.”
On whether Randy Jackson should pop up for an Idol reunion: “Maybe we’ll just get him a couple of front row seats and he can just do his Dawg-barking thing. He’s happy on Idol. I think L.A. [Reid], who we brought in, has been genuinely a revelation, because he’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met in my life. It’s been a challenge for me.”
On Cheryl Cole’s tiny cameo in Sunday’s extended preview: “She’s in episode 1. She’s in the first hour. So in terms of how we address it, we just tell it how it was. She was on the show and then she got replaced by Nicole. The first half it’s Cheryl, and in the second half it’s Nicole.”
On whether The X Factor can produce a mega-star like Lady Gaga right out of the gate: “100 percent yes. What I’ve seen on the show in the last couple of years in the U.K. – the kind of artist we’ve attracted – they’re not just competing, they’re murdering the opposition in the U.K. at the moment. We hope to do the same thing with the show here. That was always the sole reason for making a show like this. Because anyone can be the winner. But can you find a different kind of artist who doesn’t only work within a competition show? Who can actually compete with big artists around the world? That’s what you hope is going to happen, and I will die trying to make it happen.”
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