Simon Cowell is the latest celebrity to get the biography treatment. Tom Bower’s Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell is on shelves now, and I’ve decided to spare you with the latest edition of “I Read It So You Don’t Have To.” Starting with Cowell’s upbringing in England and continuing through his rocky launch of the The X Factor in the United States, Bower paints a pretty detailed picture of how Simon Cowell became the (very rich) man he is today. Cowell started out working in the mailroom of a music company, and—like him or not—he’s one of the great media moguls of our day.
But Cowell is not an easy man to please, and it’s evident that he doesn’t want to see any of his competitors (he’s looking at you, Simon Fuller) succeed. ”I despise it when somebody who isn’t working with me is successful on their own—it really upsets me. And I wish for their demise.” Way harsh, Tai!
Unless you count yourself a huge Simon Cowell fan, you can probably skip the book. Instead, read on for the highlights of Sweet Revenge, which include some ’90s pop gems and the admission that Simon uses black toilet paper!
++ Cowell made plans with a Swiss company “to freeze and store his corpse for 100 thousand pounds in the expectation that science will invent rejuvenation.” But after learning the company had frozen only the head of a client, he decided against it.
++ Cowell gets Botox injections twice a year
++ Natalie Imbruglia (yes, this Natalie Imbruglia, but also a judge on Australia’s X Factor) joined Cowell on his yacht recently “intent on hooking up with Cowell after an earlier fling.”
++ This line: “Troubled by the hatred he has generated, he has grasped that his own fortune rests on resisting the same humiliation as he had heaped on others.”
++ The popular English model Paula Hamilton admits that she lost her virginity to Simon
++ In the early ’90s, Cowell and his business partner Iain Burton decided to sell one of their properties, Fanfare, because of financial strain. PolyGram (which later became Universal) rejected the offer to purchase Fanfare. Out of spite, Cowell refused to accept the “Man of the Year” award at a music event in July 2004.
++ His very publicized engagement to Mezhgan Hussainy was not his first. Cowell was also engaged to Louise Payne
++ Cowell was partly responsible for the creation of the boy band Five (a.k.a. 5ive). Cowell had the famous songwriter Herbie Crichlow compose a song for the group. Crichlow came up with “Clap Your Hands,” but Cowell had Crichlow rewrite the lyrics. The result was “Slam Dunk (Da Funk).”
++ When Cowell first heard Max Martin’s “…Baby One More Time” he asked if he could have it for Five. When Martin said it had already been promised to an up-and-comer Britney Spears, Cowell said: “You’re mad. No one can be successful with a name like that.” Then added, “I’ll give you a new Merc 500SL if I can have that song. It costs ninety-five thousand pounds.”
++ Max Martin offered to write another song for Five instead. Martin came up with “Bye, Bye, Bye.” But after listening to the song, one of the members of Five (the book doesn’t specify which one) said “What a bag of s—.” Cowell apologized, but it was too late. “Bye, Bye, Bye” was given to ‘N Sync. Oooops!
++ TMI about Paula Abdul: “He was attracted to her—an unpredictable, temperamental, petite woman—and assumed that she would soon succumb to a sexual relationship.” (Sorry about that one.)
++ Regarding his often questioned sexuality, Simon said “If I was gay why wouldn’t I admit it? It wouldn’t harm me.” Bower also points out that not a single man had offered any newspaper evidence about an advance by Cowell, despite the promise of a large financial reward.
++ In exchange for Cowell’s not selling The X Factor in America for five years, Fox offered Cowell a contract to star in American Idol for fives seasons—beginning in January 2006—at $20 million a year plus bonuses.
++ One of Simon’s ex-girlfriends, Terri Seymour said about Simon: “I said I want a baby and Simon told me to buy a terrapin.”
++ Sharon Osbourne accused Simon of having a relationship with Dannii Minogue, which he denied, but then later confessed to their discreet affair
++ During one of his home remodels, Cowell complained to the designer that there was too much white. So, naturally, she introduced him to black toilet paper.
++ The theme of Simon’s 50th birthday party was his own vanity. Guests brought mirrors as gifts, and Dannie Minouge, Amanda Holden, Louis Walsk, and Bruno Tonioli sang “You’re So Vain.”
So what do you think, Shelf Lifers? Anything here surprise you about Simon Cowell? I particularly enjoyed the ’90s pop music throwback that the book had to offer, but beyond that I could have easily skipped this one. Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.