Never one to shy away from what he really thinks, American Idol judge Simon Cowell set his sights on both Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks and recent Oscar-winning Dreamgirls star Jennifer Hudson last Thursday night at the 24th Annual Paley Festival at the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood.

During a panel discussion about the Paley Festival at the Museum of Television & Radio, Cowell said Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino were all "standouts" from the start of their Idol journeys.  While he added Kelly Clarkson didn't hit her stride until later in the first season, which she eventually won, Cowell revealed he never really had faith in the commercial success of Hicks.

"[Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson] loved him. I couldn't stand him. I didn't get it," Cowell said during the panel discussion, according to People.  "At the end of the day you have to find a bona fide recording artist. Just because you win the show doesn't mean you will sell a lot of records. Chris [Daughtry] is the one who sold the albums, not Taylor."
People reported that when someone asked if the Idol judges thought some of the contestants and winners had gotten "big heads" and had "forgotten where they came from," Cowell couldn't help himself from using recent comments by Hudson as an example.

"Some people will deliberately turn against the show that made them successful...Jennifer Hudson said American Idol was a 'stepping stone' for her. Stepping stone? It was her big opportunity to become noticed and she got noticed and she got Dreamgirls," said Cowell.  "The reason [people] come on the show is because all the doors had been slammed in their face."

Prior to the panel discussion, Cowell, Jackson, Abdul and Idol host Ryan Seacrest spoke with E!'s Kristin Veitch.  Cowell commented that Idol 6 semifinalist Melinda Doolittle is one of his favorites because she's "humble."  He then recalled an exchange he had during last Wednesday night's performance episode with semifinalist Antonella Barba.  When Cowell told Barba he thought her performance was worse then the previous week, she said, "Simon was wrong about Jennifer Hudson."

"It's like that girl when she asked me that question last night about Jennifer Hudson, 'Like, I'm as good as her.'  You're not.  It's crazy.  They have a very strange belief in their talent," Cowell told Veitch.

Last Wednesday Cowell also addressed a popular myth that he was responsible for eliminating Hudson from the third season of Idol.  "Let's be absolutely clear okay.  We put Jennifer Hudson in American Idol.  The American audience voted her out," he told Barba. Jackson stood by Cowell's comments on Thursday night. 

"And by the way.  We didn't vote [Hudson] off, the American public did," Jackson told Veitch.  "Simon said it last night.  We have to put all those rumors to rest because it's so ridiculous.  Like we actually vote people off."