Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Simon Cowell, This Is Your Life

Simon Cowell, in the words of, was reportedly left gobsmacked when broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald entered the live finale of American Idol to announce: "Simon, This Is Your Life" and give him the famous red book. McDonad jetted all the way to Los Angeles to present Cowell with the book, which chronicles his whole life.

British viewers will be able to see the one-off episode of "This Is Your Life" on June 2, after it is recorded in London with the music mogul's friends and family in attendance.

Simon took it in good spirits and gave Sir Trevor a hug, while his fellow talent-show judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson looked on in amusement.

Celebs attending the recording include fellow "X Factor" judge Sharon Osbourne, Cowell's ex-girlfriend singer Sinitta and TV duo Ant and Dec. "X Factor" winner Leona Lewis and Simon's proteges Il Divo performed. Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Lopez were slated to record messages for the multi-millionaire.

Even pop manager Louis Walsh appeared to show there were no hard feelings after being axed from Cowell's UK talent show "The X Factor."

Before hugging Walsh, according to RTE Entertainment, Cowell said, "I humbly offer a grovelling apology Louis." Walsh then said, "Listen, honestly, he's the best. He's a really good guy and we've had amazing success with our artists [including Westlife and Shayne Ward] so far. And we're going to have a lot more with our records."

Walsh later said, "All is forgiven. Forgiven but not forgotten", but Cowell insisted, "Let's just say forgiven, alright?" Walsh replied, "Whatever."

Apparently Paula Abdul got the upper hand with Cowell for a change. The Post Chronicle reports that during the show's taping Cowell was left red-faced after his "sex secrets" were "exposed."

Abdul joked about the music mogul's performance in the bedroom while recording her contribution for the British show. Abdul, 44, quipped: "Simon is an egomaniac. He's the only man I know who screams his own name when having sex. And his idea of foreplay is staring at himself in the mirror." [Nothing she hasn't said in "American Idol" film parodies.]

The incident was made even more embarrassing for Cowell, 47, as Abdul made the comments in front of an audience including his 80-year-old mother, Julie Cowell.

Cowell's older brother Tony Cowell, 55, also let slip the music mogul would wear makeup to feign illness to get out of going to school. He said: "He used to wear pale makeup to look ill so he could get out of going to school."

After filming, Cowell's girlfriend, "Extra" correspondent Terri Seymour, threw a lavish bash for the star and all his friends and family.


In case you missed the 17-year-old (yup, she is) on "Live With Regis and Kelly" yesterday, you can watch it right here! Regis Philbin says that Jordin was his pick. She, of course, sang "This Is My Now" before an audience that appeared to be largely soldiers and sailors. She also looked slimmer already and towered over both Regis and Kelly. Blake Lewis appears on the show today; Melinda Doolittle is on tomorrow and Fantasia on Friday.

Watch video of Jordin Sparks on "Live With Regis and Kelly":


FemaleFirst reports that in an interview with OK! magazine, Paula Abdul says she has to endure specialized massages and takes arthritis medication and painkillers to help control her Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).

"I have four titanium plates in my neck," she says. "I've had 14 surgeries over the years. It can come and go at any time, but I no longer have the intense nerve pain that is associated with RSD, thank God." One of the operations was performed the same evening as the first season finale of "American Idol."

Abdul reveals she lives her life in pain following two near-death accidents in the past decade -- a car collision and a plane accident, telling the publication "I have a lot of sleepless nights because I am in so much pain."

ETOnline says that the 1993 plane crash almost ended her career. "The right wing caught fire, I broke through the seatbelt and hit my head," she says. "We came down in a cornfield in Iowa. I quit my career. For the next six years, I spent 75 percent of my time in the hospital."

Abdul says "Idol" is her third shot at superstardom, and her most profound. Being a judge on the show "overshadows being a Grammy Award winner and selling millions of records," she says. "I didn't figure out my purpose in life until 'American Idol.' I knew since I was a little girl that I had profound way of touching people. My purpose is bringing out everybody's best and being that cheerleader to other people's success."

As for her so-called goofy behavior on the show, she is adamant that reports about her being under the influence are false, adding that she has never been drunk. She says Simon Cowell made a "funny accusation that something was in my Coca-Cola cup" that started all the rumors flying.

Though she's a good sport about Simon's jokes, she says the innuendo in the press about her strange behavior has gotten out of hand. "I'm sick of it," she says. "It's defamation of character."

She also blasts plastic surgery rumors, saying, "Check behind my ears! I haven't had one ounce of work done, contrary to what every plastic surgeon may believe." However, Paula does admit to trying Botox, adding with a wink that "Simon doesn't have any wrinkles."

As for her well-publicized battle with anorexia, she's "in a really good place, having had many years in recovery. I refuse to entertain something that will lead to the anorexic behavior that I used to have."

Through it all, Paula has overcome many battles and learned to be happy with herself. "I'm proud of who I am," she says.


reports that Fantasia Barrino, the former American Idol champion who has earned rave reviews for her portrayal of Celie in the Broadway musical "The Color Purple," will perform at the 61st annual Tony Awards ceremony, to be held at 8pm on Sunday, June 10 at Radio City Music Hall and broadcast live on CBS Television.

The show's producers have announced that the ceremony will feature musical numbers from the four nominees for Best Musical and the three currently running nominees for Best Revival of a Musical: "Curtains," "Grey Gardens," "Mary Poppins," "Spring Awakening," "A Chorus Line," "Company," and "110 in the Shade." The fourth Best Revival nominee, The Apple Tree, will not perform on the telecast, nor will the shows not nominated for Best Musical.

Presenters will include Harry Connick, Jr., Kevin Spacey, Usher, Vanessa Williams, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Brian Dennehy, Carla Gugino, Neil Patrick Harris, Anne Heche, Marg Helgenberger, Judd Hirsch, Felicity Huffman, Melina Kanakaredes, Eddie Izzard, Jane Krakowski, Angela Lansbury, Robert Sean Leonard, Audra McDonald, Cynthia Nixon, Bernadette Peters, William Petersen, David Hyde Pierce, Liev Schreiber, John Turturro, Sam Waterston, Rainn Wilson, Patrick Wilson, and the leads of Jersey Boys: Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer, and John Lloyd Young. No host has been announced at this time.

Click here for tickets to the Tony Awards, a complete list of nominees, or other information.

And though her surprisingly exceptional performance as the faith-depraved lead character Celie isn't eligible for a coveted Tony Award, according to AOL'S BlackVoices blog, the High Point, N.C., native will be receiving another prestigious honor.

She's the recipient of a 2006-07 Theatre World Award, which honors performers making their first major New York stage appearance (Broadway or Off-Broadway debuts). Fantasia joins other theater world newcomers Bill Nighy ("The Vertical Hour"), Nilaja Sun ("No Child... ") and Lin-Manuel Miranda ("In the Heights") for their respective works.

The 63rd annual awards ceremony will be held at an invitation-only event at New World Stages in New York City on June 5.

Among Fantasia's rave reviews:

The New York Times' Charles Isherwood called Fantasia "so terrific that this earnest but mechanical musical is more effective and affecting than it was when it yawned open a year and a half ago at the Broadway Theater."

Associated Press drama critic Michael Kuchwara said her portrayal of Celie gives the production "new heart, soul and star power."

"And Fantasia knows how to let loose, particularly in her final number of affirmation, 'I'm Here.' It pretty much brings down the house, earning cheers and a few tears," he continued.

In his review for the New York Daily News, Joe Dziemianowicz, said "Fantasia gives such a powerful performance in her Broadway debut that it's almost, to borrow a lyric from the show, 'too beautiful for words.'"

There is a special offer to encourage interested theatergoers to experience Fantasia in the Oprah Winfrey-produced "The Color Purple." When you buy two tickets to see the performance now through June 30, you will receive a $50 gift certificate to some of Harlem's most popular restaurants including the black-owned Amy Ruth's, new hot-spot Melba's, and the legendary Sylvia's.

By mentioning special promotional codes CP8DINE (through Telecharge at 212-947-8844) or promotional code CP82DINE (through this Web site), customers can enjoy a great meal in the historical cultural mecca. Click here for more information.


You've read snippets for days here and other places, but here is the complete transcript of QNAs between Jordin Sparks and the press during a conference call this past Friday. Tomorrow we'll post Blake Lewis' interview transcript. (Salutations and congratulations eliminated for the sake of brevity):

US Weekly online: Being the newest Idol, what's one thing that you've gleaned from the other Idols' careers that you'll use to your advantage in your own career? Perhaps maybe from the female Idols: Kelly, Fantasia, Carrie.

I'm not sure. I look up to them; I know I do, because I've been watching them for the past couple years in their career and have their records. But I would love to model my career after theirs, because they've been so successful, so I would love to have a career like theirs.

US Weekly online: I was recently speaking with the two guys who penned your "This Is Your Now" tune, and they were so excited to have you sing it. What does that song mean to you?

It's actually so perfect, because I remember sitting down when we got the song, and I was listening to it and I couldn't believe how perfect it was for just this whole process in general, because it totally relates to what I've been dreaming about and just everything about it. It was so perfect, and I love singing it because it spoke to me that way.

Wireless Flash News: You got quite the nice Mustang on the finale. So do you actually have your driver's license and are you a good driver?

Yes, I have my driver's license. I actually got it I think July of last year, so it was about before I went and auditioned. I think I'm okay; I haven't gotten any tickets or anything yet. So I think I'm all right.

Wireless Flash News: Can you disclose how many you actually got wrong on your driver's test? Or did you get anything wrong on your driver's test?

Well my driver's test I think I did pretty well. The permit test I kind of had a problem with, but then I went and studied and then I passed, so it was good.

Soap Opera Weekly: How did you emotionally handle the shows' various pressures throughout the season?

It's cool, because since I am a minor I have a guardian with me. And so I had my mom or my nana, because they would switch off, I would have them with me throughout the season. So it was cool to have them to lean on. … everything like that, so it was really cool to have everybody and …

[Moderator cuts in to tell Jordin they're having trouble with the phone lines and she's cutting in and out]

Soap Opera Weekly: And when during the season did you first feel that you could win?

I don't know, I guess when I made the top 12 I was like, "Wow, I have a one in 12 chance of actually winning this thing." Because it's better than one out of 15,000 at the Key Arena. So I don’t know, I guess …

[Moderator: We've lost you again. Okay. Now you’re back. Did you want to repeat your question? I don't think you got your answer, did you?]

Soap Opera Weekly: When during the season did you first feel you could win?

I felt like I could win, I guess, at top 12. Your chances improve as you keep going through the competition, and it's better than one out of 15,000 at the Key Arena, so when I got to the top 12 I was like, "Hey, I have a one in 12 chance of winning." It turned out pretty well.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: What would like to sing on the American Idol Tour? Do you have any thoughts on what you're going to sing?

I have no idea what I'm going to do on it. Everything is happening so fast that I haven't even had really a chance to think about it. But it's going to be cool, because it's going to be a different show and everybody is going to sing what is geared towards them and what suits their voice the best. So I have no idea; I haven't really thought about it yet. I'm sorry.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Has Blake taught you any beat-boxing at all?

He's tried to teach me, but I'm really horrible at it. I try, and sometimes I entertain myself by trying to do it, but I can't do it.

Houston Chronicle: Throughout the course of, specifically I guess the top 12, different contestants go attention for so many different things, Melinda and LaKisha consistently for their terrific voices, Blake for his originality and then Sanjaya for just sort of being himself. Tell me what you think it was that eventually, finally put you over the top despite all the other attention everyone else was getting.

I don’t know; I guess it's just want America liked and they loved seeing it. It's cool to have different story lines, and that's what makes this show so great is because everybody is so different. I don't know, I tried to top myself every week and I guess I just stayed the same. I'm just a quirky 17-year old … I don't know, I guess people just started to see that.

Houston Chronicle: What did Blake say to you immediately after the win?

Well he just said, "Congratulations, honey." He's been so great; he's been one of my biggest supporters since the beginning, I guess, and I've been one of his. So it was really cool that I got to share the stage with him. I felt very honored.

US Weekly: You sound like you're losing your voice. Have you been constantly—?

I am a little bit. Just — I don't know.

US Weekly: So what has your schedule been like since you won?

It's been pretty crazy. The day before yesterday, the night of, I did a ton of press until about 11:45, and then didn't really get home or to bed until 1:30, and then I had to wake up at 4:00. So I was running on two hours of sleep yesterday.

It's been pretty crazy, but it was actually pretty easy yesterday. We did some affiliate stuff and we did Leno and Ellen, and it was really fun. I had a good time. And now I'm up talking to you guys.

US Weekly: And have you spoken to your best friend from school yet? The one we saw in your tape of going home?

Yes, yes, I have actually. 'Yes, I did, I talked to her. She was telling me how proud she was of me, and that she was sad because she probably won't see me as much anymore. I told her not to worry, because even though I am busy it will be okay and I still love her. We've been keeping in contact, and I've been talking to her all the time, so it's good.

People Magazine: You're going to be thrust even more into the spotlight as the winner. How have you prepared yourself for all of it?

I don't think you can prepare yourself for it. I'm kind of just taking it one step at a time and rolling with the punches and kind of just going with the flow.

People Magazine: Now that you are in the spotlight there are going to be a lot of pressures out there. How do you think you will keep yourself grounded? Like there are a lot of pressures to be super thin in Hollywood, there are a lot of pressures to do certain things, go out all the time; how will you keep yourself grounded from these types of—?

Oh, that super thin stuff, Hollywood needs to get over it. I don't know, I have a really good family around me and I love the people that I have around me. I'm pretty sure they'll keep me grounded; I know they will, because they are always like, "Don’t let it go to your head, Jordin." I'm like, "Okay." I know that my mom and my dad and my grandparents, I'll just keep them with me. As long as I have them with me I think I'll be okay.

Gannett News Service: They showed a red one [Mustang] and blue one. Which one did you pick? And then did you actually get out and get to drive it at all yesterday?

The night we got it I talked to Blake and I was like, "Blake, what color do you want?" because I wanted the red one and he was, "I want blue," And that's the first thing that came out of his mouth and I said, "Yes," because I got the red one. So he took the blue and I got the red, but I haven't seen it yet and I haven't been able to drive it yet. It's been kind of crazy.

Gannett News Service: Have you finished your schooling for your junior year? And for senior year, since you're going to be so busy, are you going to do something else like tutor or test out or something?

I actually had my last block of school yesterday, so now I'm on summer break so I'm really excited about that. But for my senior year I want to graduate, but I've been home schooling for about two years now, so I think I'm going to keep doing that. And they brought a tutor for me during the season, so it was really cool. But I would love to graduate. I don't know. I have to take each day by day, because I don't know because I've been so busy. I would love to finish though.

Life and Style: What female pop star would you most like to collaborate with?

Oh my goodness. Whoa, that's a good question. There are so many; I have such a broad taste that there are so many that I would love to work with. I love Christina Aguilera and I love Martina McBride. I don't know; there are so many. Those few I guess; I guess those were the first ones that popped into my head. I would love to work with them.

Life and Style: And have you ever thought about Broadway?

Yes, I have actually. When my dad was playing football, since we lived really close, we would go to Broadway plays a lot. We saw "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast" and "Smokey Joe's Café" -- one of may favorites. I don't know, I love musical theater and I love the performance aspect of it. Singing will always be my number one, but on the side or maybe some day I'll be able to do it. I don't know yet.

Life and Style: And what are you planning to do when you get home?

I think I want to sleep in my own bed and I want to play with my puppies and spend time with my best friends and read a book.

Bloomberg News: Could you explain to those of us who don't know how the mechanism of your record contract works? In other words, now that you're the winner how does the arrangement with the record company work, and if you could explain some of the logistics of that?

I don't think I really even know that much. I guess Blake and I got the same contract. I don't really know. We have the same contract and we get to put an album out and we get to tour; I don't really know much more than that.

Bloomberg News: Do you have representation and have you contemplated what your earning power may be?

Yes, I do. I don't know. I'm just looking forward to doing the best that I can do.

Bloomberg News: You do have representation?


Bloomberg News: And can you say what agency you’re with?

[Moderator: She can’t answer that question at this point; can I follow-up with you with that information after the call? Reporter answers affirmatively]

Digital Spy: What sort of album would you like to make now?

I love all different types of genre of music, so I would love to infuse everything into one. I love country and I love pop, I love R&B and I love rock and roll, so I would love to do just a little bit of each, but still make it so that people can enjoy it. I hope they enjoy that with my little Jordin flair added to it.

Digital Spy: And are there any particular songwriters or producers you'd like to work with?

Wow. There are a lot. I can't think of any right now. I guess whoever is willing to work with me.

In Touch Weekly: How much has your life changed from before the show started to now?

It's changed so much. When I was in high school I don't know, I'd hang out with my friends and sometimes I had drama club. We had rehearsals because we did "A Christmas Carol" and "Footloose," so we would do that, and that was, I think, my freshman year. I was just a normal kid.

I was excited to get my driver's license, but I was way more excited to do "American Idol." I talked about it all the time; I am a die-hard fan of the show. I was just normal; I think I'm still pretty much that way. I'm still a die-hard fan and I still keep in touch with my friends and stuff.

In Touch Weekly: Would you say that you were popular in high school? Did you hang out mostly with the drama club people?

I was kind of a floater; I hung out with pretty much everybody, because I had so many different friends. It was really cool. I wasn't like in one sort of clique. The drama club was always fun; that was like the after school, extra curricular thing that I would do, and I made tons of great friends in there. Then I have my basketball friends. I liked everybody.

In Touch Weekly: Was there anyone, and you don't have to name names specifically, but now that you've made it you kind of are like, "Ha ha," like that kind of thing?

Not that I know of. I tried to make friends with everybody, and if there was I'm sorry that they felt that way. I don't know.

BBC News: You're the youngest ever person to win "American Idol," and you're being compared to Leona Lewis, who won the version in this country. Are you aware of Leona? Do you have plans to come over here?

I actually heard that the other day; I think my mom was telling me about her the other day. But I would love to come over there. It would be really cool.

BBC News: Who are your kind of inspirations? Who made you want to sing in the first place?

I guess I've always loved to sing, but I remember watching an award show, and I think it was Mariah Carey performing. I remember watching her and I was like, "Oh my gosh, she looks so beautiful and I want to do that, mom. I want to do that." I don't even remember the exact year, I just remember seeing her and wanting to perform.

Star Magazine: Would you have been more nervous if you had been competing against Melinda [Doolittle] in the final?

I don't know. Actually I thought it was going to be Blake and Melinda, so I was just like, "Whoa. Cool." Melinda is one of my best friends ever, and I love her to death. If I would have been up against her I would have been so happy if she won, because she is just so amazing and I just love her. I don't know if I would have been nervous.

Star Magazine: Would you still be confident that you could have won against her?

It would have been anybody's game I guess, because I guess we both kind of have the powerful voices. But I think we reach out to different people, so it could have been anybody's game.

Star Magazine: Who is your celebrity crush?

I'm going to have to say Brad Pitt.

Star Magazine: Why Brad? It's quite obvious, really, but—

I don't know, he's just really cute. I don't know him, so I don't know anything else except he's just really good looking.

Starry Constellation Magazine: When is your song, "This Is My Now," to be released? And what is it about the song that will resonate with the fans?

It's already out, actually, on iTunes and, so it's already out. Did you ask what my plans are?

Starry Constellation Magazine: What’s going to resonate with the fans? What about the song?

Oh, I'm so sorry; I couldn't understand. For me the song is just so perfect, speaking to everything that I've dreamed about. It so crazy just talking about there was a time when you didn’t feel like you could do it and now you can. It's so amazing and I love the song so much. And hopefully they like it.

Starry Constellation Magazine: How are you handling all this sudden fame and what are the good and the bad parts?

I don't think anything can really prepare you for it, so it's still kind of weird to me. It's crazy. I don't know, I'm just taking it step-by-step and being careful. I don't know about any good and bad parts yet, because I've only been doing this for one day, so I'm still getting used to it.

CanWest News Service: What is the greatest lesson you learned from the "American Idol" experience?

I don't know, this whole process has kind of made me a better person and everything. I've loved everything about it. It's taught me how to emote better and it's taught me to be a better performer and it's definitely taught me how crazy a week's schedule can be. It's made me a better person, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.

CanWest News Service: Who has been the greatest influence in your life?

I guess that would definitely have to be my family. They all are just so amazing and they've been so encouraging, and have been supporting me since I told them that I wanted to sing. It was so awesome seeing them in the audience that night. They deserve all the credit, because they've been there pushing behind me 100%.

New York Daily News: What do you remember about your dad being a New York Giant and growing up and spending time in New Jersey and in the City of New York?

I remember it pretty well. I loved that he was playing football, because I love the sport myself. When he was playing it was really cool because we would go to the games and we would watch. It was just so amazing, because my dad, he's such a people person and he's so nice. Afterwards we'd have to walk around and he would sign autographs and stuff. He was just one of the nicest people you could ever meet, and so I really looked up to him for that.

He actually told me the other day how weird it was that he was watching me sign autographs, because I used to watch him do the same thing. So … kind of came full circle.

New York Daily News: How many times did you come into the city itself? Did you used to come and spend the weekends in the city? Were there favorite spots you had that you used to go hang out in?

We lived pretty close, like a 20-minute drive from Manhattan, so we were there quite a lot. We went to Broadway, obviously, and we love the All Star Café. That was an awesome place to eat; oh my gosh, I love that place. I think when I go out there hopefully I'll get to stop by; I would love to.

Sweet Sixteen: What were the pinnacles of your life before Idol? What were the greatest moments before this?

You're going to laugh at me, but getting my braces off. I'm just a quirky 17-year old girl, and getting my braces off was awesome. I did get my license, and that was cool eventually. And then just making it through the first round of the auditions, it amazed me because I didn't think I had a chance because so many people auditioned. But just the normal things -- braces and getting my license.

Sweet Sixteen: And other than the minute you were declared the winner, what was the most memorable American Idol moment for you?

Singing with Gladys Knight was just so amazing; I can't even put into words how amazing that was. I remember she walked out on the stage during rehearsal and I couldn't believe that I was going to be singing with her. When she came out that night me and Melinda just looked at each other like oh my goodness, I can't believe this is happening. It was so amazing.

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