Simon Cowell: I don't watch the new 'Idol'

Image Credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Simon Cowell says he has not watched an episode of Fox’s American Idol since he left the show.

“I haven’t seen a full episode yet,” the former Idol judge told reporters on a conference call for his upcoming music competition series, The X Factor. “I saw three minutes of a recap last week. From what I’ve seen, from what I’ve heard, it all seems to be going well. I always thought that would be the case. What I was more concerned about was the ratings falling off a cliff, meaning that that whole genre is over. I think the good news is that people are still excited about these shows, whether it be that show, Dancing with the Stars, which has definitely gotten better over the years, America’s Got Talent, which the ratings have gone up over the years. People, thank god, still like these shows, and that gives me more confidence when we launch ours… I think they’ve done a good job.”

Despite all the changes on the Fox hit, the ratings for Idol have pulled roughly even with Cowell’s last season on the show. Asked if his former Idol partner Paula Abdul could be a judge on his X Factor, which debuts next fall and has not yet announced a full judging panel, Cowell demurred.

“I’m a massive fan of Paula,” he said. “We’ve been in regular contact. I’m not going to say today who we are going to confirm or not, because the truth is we haven’t made up our minds up yet…. It comes down to who I think is interesting, and the commitment and the expertise each person offers.”

One critic asked about Fox’s announcement this morning that X Factor will allow contestants as young as 12 to audition. Should kids that young be subjected to the intense public scrutiny of a primetime competition series?

“Five or six years ago I wouldn’t have done it,” Cowell said. “There are some incredibly talented young kids out there, and because I work for a record label, over the last 12 months we’ve started to see a trend of what kids this age are capable of doing. I went on record years ago saying I think it’s wrong to have people around this age doing it, and now I think times have changed. You have to make a case-by-case decision based on them as a person, whether they’re capable of doing this kind of thing, what their parental support is like.”

Cowell also said that Susan Boyle taught him a “huge lesson” about making assumptions about a potential star’s age or outward appearance.

“[I learned] I have to be more open minded,” he says. “I don’t believe Susan Boyle would have got through in the old-fashion audition method…. God only knows what we would have said to [Lady Gaga] if she walked into Idol with a lobster on her head three years ago.”


Comments (131 total) Add your comment
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  • MWeyer

    Don’t feel bad, Simon. Most everyone I know hasn’t watched it since you left either.

    • Tiffany

      You don’t know many people then? Or you live in a retirement home.

      • dru

        Ratings are down around 25%. Many people aren’t interested in this new Idol. Of the group who has watched Idols for most of its run, only one is tuned in and even that one regrets wasting time on it.

      • Color Me Impressed

        Ummm I havent watched at all this season

      • So

        So what if he hasn’t watched. That’s probably why he left in the first place, maybe he doesn’t have the “focus strength ability”.

      • laughlin

        Especially since ratings are up 11% this week.

    • Steve

      Do YOU really think he read or cared what you said!!!

    • Sally

      Yeah, you must live under a rock then since the ratings have been good. Last weeks, in fact, were higher then last years at the same time.

    • Road_Crew

      I’m really sorry to hear you don’t have any friends. Maybe if you didn’t act like an A$$ you could get some friends…

    • NLP

      I haven’t watched at all this season either, Simon was always the best part.

    • Steve B

      At last SC and I have something in common….I have never watched any of them

  • LOL

    No one cares.

  • Skippy

    ^ You two are ‘tards, everyone is watching it and it rocks!

    • Jay

      Uhm…. no. I have not, nor will I ever watch, American Idol.
      So your statement about “everybody” watching A.I. is totally wrong… but thanks for playing

      • Kimmie

        They’re not ‘tards; they’re right. Though I do have to agree with Simon’s comment that Idol doing well is good for X Factor, because it means people are still interested in the genre. So, with that in mind, it’s all good.

      • Zakry

        Right about what?

      • gato

        Jay why are you “playing” if you dont even watch this show? Go read a book troll

    • Zakry

      Aren’t you self-important? There are still MANY, MANY people watching Idol. Even if you and Simon aren’t among them.

    • Me

      Actually, the show fails this season. No one cares about American Idol anymore. Except for … people who have nothing better to do with their time? The whole show is going downhill.

      • Gaige

        I am not trying to criticise you, but the show, in terms of quality, hasn’t really gone down to much. Besides the fact that they kept randy who doesn’t really share anything of importance and is mostly there, the show has been fine. Ratings have plummeted 25% but there is some good talent on here so far this year. (although, that’s what people were saying this time last season)

    • Dave

      Really, Skippy? Everyone is watching it? Wow, I didn’t know the population of the U.S. had dropped to 25 million people.

    • Ron

      TARDS?? I had no idea there were so many intellectuals in it’s viewing audience. Leave the comments to the adults.

      • Rot

        How about “‘Turds”?

  • JLT

    I’m not watching. I watched for about 20 minutes and that was plenty.

  • LiLa

    I wish Cowell well with his new show but I have to say that Idol is doing just fine without him. I’m really enjoying this season so far.

    • Jack

      Idol is so boring without him. There’s no honest criticism. “Dawg, it wasn’t for me” is not honest criticism.

      • Daniel

        Methinks you’ve not actually watched this season: There’s a whole lot less of the “Dawg, it wasn’t for me” type comments. Randy’s actually kinda harsh. Maybe you need to actually pay attention when you rewatch the episodes.

      • Luna

        well… okay. I kinda agree with Jack here. The judges are not giving any constructive criticism. Most of the people they let through had major pitch issues and needed work, yet the judges said nothing (unless they just edited that part out). This is by far the greatest amount of people to make it to Hollywood. But then again, Simon was never really the one who gave constructive criticism, so it didn’t really matter if he left or not…. in a way I miss Simon, but I do kinda enjoy the lighter mood.

      • Me

        I agree. And I heard that JLO is sending people to Hollywood because they’re crying and she feels bad. But what do I know. It’s all hearsay because the show sucks. Simon was the real deal!

      • Amber

        I don’t think more people are necessarily making it through. I feel like they are just showing us less of the train wrecks and gimmicks. We are only spending real time on those that got through. In past years we didn’t see a lot of the people that made it through at all. In fact, Kelly Clarkson’s audition wasn’t shown until well into the first season. I feel like they are wasting less time on junk this year.

      • Tarc

        Idol without Simon is… a much better Idol. I kinda loathe that someone is going to give him an opportunity to suck the life (and cash) out of more young stars.

  • Roger C.

    Neither do I! The whole show has gone off the rails. The J-Lo virus has completely encapsulated the show. She’s basically trying to make it like Oprah, a feel-good hour of auditions. It’s all about her. She was not worth the money.

    • Scroobles

      You’re an idiot.

      • kcr

        Calling people idiots coz you don’t agree with them is idiotic.

    • Kat

      Wow, I haven’t at all gotten the sense that J. Lo has tried to make it about herself or about Oprah-esque feel good TV. She was the dissenting voice several times for a contestant that wasn’t great but whose tears worked on the other two judges. It’s way more about Tyler than J. Lo. I’m not sure what you’re seeing, Roger.

  • Rah-theh

    And I’m not interested in seeing X-Factor. Cowell, Lythgoe, Morgan and their hangers-on can all go home to England and good riddance.

    • ROLMAN

      I don’t see J-LO taking over anything. The shows about the people auditioning, the judges are entertaining. IT’S JUST ENTERTAINMENT!!!

  • ron

    I haven’t seen a full episode… so does he miss the first 5 min ???? LOl…. you know he has watched

  • alan

    i watch the gene autry show

  • Leroy Whitby

    Simon Cowell made American Idol a hit. Otherwise it was just a talent show.

  • Jack Lean II

    I can do Simon one better. I’ve never watched the worthless drivel. And my life is much better simply because I choose to ignore it.

    • Marianna

      Duly noted, Charles Emmerson Winchester the Third. You’ll be relieved to know the hoi polloi no longer requires your input on those things which do not concern you.

      • Amber

        Just so you know, I kind of love you. Awesome response.

      • Candacetx


      • Sheila

        Now that was one of the funniest comeback comments I have ever read period.

    • DaMosh

      If you’ve never watched….why in the world would you read, then comment on, an article about it?

      • AltDave

        Because many people, evidently, have the seriously misguided notion that the internet community is breathlessly awaiting to hear the latest about what they don’t like. Basically, they are the same people that, in the real world, walk up to a group having a nice conversation and proceed to suck every molecule of life out of the group dynamic until, one by one, everyone leaves him standing there, still ranting about what he can’t stand. You know those guys…

  • wsugarlove

    well He has not miss anything by not watching…if you can carry a tune – You’r going to HOLLywood or a cute girl with tears…the show is quite bording…they need a simon type on the show!!

  • John Berggren

    Seriously, please don’t pretend Idol is an epic fail – even Simon has said he’s happy the ratings have sustained. I’m enjoying the tonal shift this season, but I’ll still check out X-factor when it arrives (hopefully with Paula!)

    • Marianna

      Maybe there will be a role for Paula as a guest judge but I don’t think she’ll be invited as a permanent fixture. It’s already been done and he’s probably looking for something fresh to distance himself a bit further from Idol.

  • carter

    the show sucked then,, it sucks now and the new show x-factor will suck, of that i am sure

    • matthew


    • 1984AnimalFarm

      Maybe you shouldn’t watch?

    • Amber

      There’s a red “x” in the corner of your screen that can get rid of all this pesky Idol nonsense for you. I would avoid the “post comment” button, as it does nothing to help you escape it.

      • Petra

        It is always hilarious to read the regular postings of the cadre of “Idol haters” that regularly post to say they hate the show, post on each episode to say they watched and hated it and will never watch again, or say that Idol stinks but for their God, Simon Cowell.

  • Beauty

    Me either!

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