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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 10

Simon Cowell: Howard Stern doesn't fit criteria as his 'Idol' replacement


By Christopher Rocchio, 02/23/2010 

Simon Cowell feels it is "really important" that his American Idol replacement has experience in the music industry -- and he's not sure that controversial shock jock Howard Stern meets that qualification.

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"Whoever replaces me, my advice has always been to find somebody who actually knows what they're talking about and has actually experienced success in the music business," Cowell told reporters during a Thursday conference call.

"As I was saying that I thought, '[Stern] doesn't seem to fit any of these criteria.'  He's played records.  Maybe that's a good qualification, that he's played records.  He's a DJ. But he obviously wants the job.  Good luck to him."

According to a New York Post report earlier this month, American Idol had approached Stern after hearing his repeated on-air mentions that he is "open to other offers" once his current $500 million Sirius XM Radio deal expires in January 2011.

Stern subsequently confirmed he would be interested in replacing Cowell and made numerous comments that suggested there was merit to the Post's report, which was then denied by two American Idol insiders.

"I know Howard's name has been in there for a while, but I'm fairly certain that there hasn't been an approach at any time for Howard to do the show," Cowell told reporters.

Last month, Cowell inked a deal with Fox that will end his American Idol judging role while also launching his British The X Factor reality competition series for the network in Fall 2011.

Cowell characterized the attention his American Idol departure has received as "flattering."

"I really do appreciate it," he said.  "Like I've said before, the show goes on.  I'm going to feel sad when it all ends, but look, it's much nicer to be popular than unpopular, so I do appreciate it."

Cowell's potential replacement has also been a hot topic of conversation, and Cowell gave some qualities he feels are important for the positions.

"You have to be good looking.  Secondly, I think you just have to know what you're talking about.  I think more and more now I'm starting to realize with these shows that we have to put people on the shows who actually know what they're talking about rather than guessing," he explained. 

"They really have to have experience so you don't just criticize, but you can actually offer constructive advice as well."

Cowell pointed out that when American Idol launched it had "a record producer, an artist and an A&R man" on the judging panel -- which he said "covered pretty much everything you need to do."

"I would say somebody who's had managerial experience is always very helpful, but in simplistic terms it's not if you judge the ice skating at The Olympics; you're going to give a score," he added. 

"You genuinely need to know what you're talking about.  I think over the years judges have been replaced by personalities.  That, in the long-term, will create problems because you have to be able to spot a star."

While Cowell reiterated several times that music experience is important, he clarified the comments were not directed at new American Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres -- who has received some criticism for her lack of it.

"I was thinking that as I was saying this that people are going to misinterpret what I am saying.  No.  I'll tell you why I think Ellen was a good choice," he told reporters. 

"She actually is very responsible for people she has performing on her own show.  I know that for a fact because I've dealt with her as a record label.  And she loves music and she's been an artist, so no, it wasn't meant to diss her credentials; it was specifically talking about my replacement because my roll on the show was somebody who has run a successful record label.  So it was really specifically towards my replacement."

In addition to Stern, Cowell was asked about several other possible replacements -- including Perez Hilton.

"Perez would be funny," said Cowell.  "You know, he has a good taste in music, he's a personality.  I mean, that could work."

He was also asked about Oasis member and fellow Brit Noel Gallagher, which led him to dismiss the possibility of Madonna joining the panel.

"I know Noel quite well and I like him.  He's very funny and he is a brilliant songwriter.  It's a possibility," said Cowell. 

"Look, the good news for them is there is no shortage of candidates.  There are a lot of people.  The hardest thing, actually, about finding a replacement is that when you hear people's names like Madonna, it will never happen because you have to give a massive, massive time commitment.  That's always been the problem when you're trying to find people to do these shows.  You have to find people who are prepared to give up that much time."

Cowell joked that American Idol is "never going to pick anyone as good as him" and added he hasn't really had much input in the process of finding his replacement.

"I can give general advice," he said. 

"I think the important thing is what I said earlier on -- and you've seen this on a lot of shows, you cover a lot of stuff -- you see people put in a role to play a certain role, which has become quite tiresome, when people always describe that person as the mean judge or whatever it is.  You just have to find somebody who can actually make a difference to the contestants, who's not afraid to speak their mind, who's prepared to be honest and occasionally blunt, but not to be gratuitously rude."

While Cowell said he's "really getting tired of all that now," he's aware there are others who want to take it on.

"I think ironically, it's going to help next season because I think there's going to be a lot of interest as to who replaces me," he said.

Cowell added he's received "a couple calls" from interested candidates, but doesn't think any of them will land the position.

"They were quite boring people and never stood a chance," he said. 

"No, they'll be contacting Fox, I think, if they really want this job.  Or do what Howard's been doing - just basically talking about it on his show I think is brilliant."

(Photo credit Fox)


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