Friday, June 1, 2007

Cowell to Spears: "Go Home"

Simon Cowell doesn't limit the advice he dispenses just to "American Idol" contestants. He also had some advice for train wreck Britney Spears. People magazine reports that on "Good Morning America," Cowell's career advice for the pop star is "go home to your family."

Cowell told ABC news correspondent Juju Chang that Spears is perfectly capable of saving her career because she's "still one of the most talked about pop stars on the planet."

"She has the X-factor because people want to write about her," Cowell says. "She's not conventional, she's not normal." At the same time, Cowell says that Britney "can't handle the tension and the pressure" that comes from being in the spotlight so she needs to refocus herself at home.

"Lock the door, don't go out with your stupid friends, have some home-cooked food, get a sense of reality," he says. "Go lie in the garden, okay? And then say to yourself, 'There's more good in my life than bad. I'm still a rich, talented girl – now I want to get my career back on track.' End of story."

But the interview wasn't all about Spears. Cowell also revealed why he believes Jordin Sparks is the new American Idol. "Jordin was the most improved over the whole season," he says. "She didn't start the best but midway through, this was the girl who suddenly got momentum."

Still, Cowell feels that Sparks wasn't necessarily the one who deserved the title. "Melinda [Doolittle] should have won," he says. "She tried the hardest, was consistently the best and had the best voice."

But Cowell's praise doesn't always have the intended effect and he knows it. "I think about it now – whether I should have endorsed her as much as [I did]," he says. "I think it was the right thing to do."


And speaking about Cowell (which everybody does), it seems that the British pop mogul proves the axiom "the rich just keep getting richer." says that Cowell will have doubled his fortune to £200 million [approximately $400 million U.S.] by the end of the year, thanks largely to the success of "American Idol" in the US.

Cowell, 47, will make about £50 million from the latest series of the hit talent show – and has signed up to the series for another five years [interesting, since only last week he was claiming his contract is only for the next three years, after which he's quitting the series -- wink, wink], which will net him £ 20million a series.

He also earns a fortune from the recording rights of all songs released by contestants who appear on the show.

Cowell, named Britain's 700th richest person in the Sunday Times Rich List, will boost his bank balance further with the sale of his production company, SyCo.

His agent, PR guru Max Clifford, said of his client who dropped out of school at the age of 15 to become one of the most important people in pop : "He's got a Midas touch."


In another case of the rich just getting richer, just two years after CKX bought Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment for almost $200 million, The Financial Times of London reports that Fuller and U.S. entertainment heavyweight Robert Sillerman have launched a $1.3 billion bid to take over CKX, the company that owns the rights to "American Idol."

Sillerman, the chief executive and largest shareholder of CKX, and Fuller, who created "Idol" and is the chief executive of its subsidiary 19 Entertainment, have made a proposal to the company's board of directors to take the company private.

As well as owning 19 Entertainment, CKX has exclusive talent deals with David and Victoria Beckham, singers Rachel Stevens, Will Young, Claudia Schiffer, Annie Lennox and Emma Bunton. It also has a controlling interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises and owns the names, images and likenesses of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali.

If a deal goes through, Fuller and Sillerman would hold equal stakes in the new company.


In an exclusive statement to, Paula Abdul says:

"I am deeply hurt and extremely disappointed that someone has taken a private telephone conversation that I had with my representatives and released it to the media. This is not only illegal but also highly unethical. While I don't feel a need to justify or explain my conversation, even as a public figure I do feel my privacy has been violated and find this action to be unacceptable."

A secretly taped phone conversation was released this week featuring a sobbing Abdul discussing her former publicist and their strained relationship. TMZ says that Paula is now back with her longtime publicist Jeff Ballard.

You can hear audio of the phone conversation on the New York Post site (you can also click here to listen to it), which originally broke the story and said, that in a sob-filled audiotape Abdul is captured having a meltdown during a recent conference call.

Abdul, who seems to be talking to a group of publicists at some point during the last week, trashes her former rep, Howard Bragman; reveals she's dealing with challenging medical problems; and states she's had enough of the terrible treatment she receives from the "people who are supposed to be taking care of things."

She sobs on the tape: "I've never been treated this way and I've never seen anybody treated this way. This is just too much to stomach." Abdul is assured by those hearing her wails, "You will be treated better starting right now."

"I've been going through tremendous amounts of a difficult time," said Abdul, who, the paper claims, recently fibbed to her fans when she said she hurt her nose tripping over her Chihuahua. The paper says that Abdul actually threw a glass against the wall and a shard of it cut her face.

Abdul also outlines her health problems, including an adrenal disease called Addison's.

Ranting about Bragman, who apparently didn't appreciate her enough, Abdul says: "I do a call-in every week for OK! Magazine on 'American Idol.' Because of my brilliant job, they want to do a cover on me. I'm being told by Howard Bragman that I'm too old and no one will ever want to do a cover.

"I'm being tested. All I've ever wanted in my life is to be treated fairly and be treated with kindness. And I've never in my entire career been treated this way. The people who are supposed to take care of these things do not. I have to clean up after them everywhere they go. And I'm tired of it.

"Howard Bragman on Monday - he did some disgusting behavior. I had to go to Jimmy Kimmel," Abdul is heard sobbing, "with no publicist there. [Abdul appeared on Kimmel's show on May 15.] I go on with no publicist there and I pay this man . . .

"I don't understand how this man can call me a whining bitch. I've never in my life been called a whining bitch and a loser."

When the paper asked Bragman when he stopped working with Abdul, he said, "I'm not going into it," and added, "I'll stand by my reputation if she'll stand by hers." Her current rep, David Brokaw, did not return calls.


NBC has announced that the network will celebrate the nation's 231st birthday extravaganza with a live telecast on July 4th at 9 p.m. that includes performances by Martina McBride, Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis and Melinda Doolittle . The show will be hosted by Natalie Morales and Tiki Barber.

The country's largest Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza will feature nearly 35,000 brilliant shells exploding over New York City set to an original medley performed by The New York Pops. Over 1,000 pyrotechnic shells are fired every minute, when the first shells explode and begin their choreographed pyrotechnic dance.


Eight of "American Idol's" final 10 (numbers 3-10) visited the "Access Hollywood" stage to chat about life in the spotlight and their new found fame. (you can watch the video here).

"It was a year ago and nobody knew who you were," Access' Shaun Robinson joked with the group. "Five months ago," Melinda Doolittle joking corrected her.

But the eight apparently still aren’t used to seeing themselves on camera, as they took every opportunity to ham it up on our set before the interview began, with Sanjaya Malakar smothering LaKisha Jones with kisses.

"Sanjaya you kiss me one more time and I'm gonna beat you down," she smiled. In that regard, it looks like LaKisha stands alone, because plenty of girls are clamoring for smooches from Sanjaya.

"It's very awkward sometimes though because you're walking down the street and someone will be like, 'Hey Sanjaya! How you doing?' and I'm just like 'Hi,'" he told Shaun.

"It's weird because I thought Sanjaya was the most non-popular [er, Chris, try unpopular] person on the show," Chris Richardson joked, getting a big laugh from the rest of the group.

But how did all of the controversy impact the musical Malakar? "I was just focusing on what I had to do each week because that's what you have to do," he told Shaun. "You can't get distracted by that stuff."

So did his fellow contestants feel all of the attention helped Sanjaya stick around a little longer than he would have otherwise? "I think the press certainly helped Sanjaya get votes, but I also think he deserved it," Phil Stacey said.

"He stuck through it too," Chris Richardson added. "Especially being his age and having so many people just coming down on him, he still would come in with a smile every single day."

Shaun asked Sanjaya about the video on YouTube in which Sanjaya claims his name is Bill Vendall, a 25-year-old grad student who's been playing the role of "Sanjaya" as an art project. (Watch Bill Vendall video here.) "Okay, you wanna explain that?" Shaun asked him.

"I was having fun and then people believed that I was actually Bill Vendall," he laughed. "I'm not Bill Vendall!" (Watch Bill Vendall denial video here.)

As it turns out, the bizarre hoax was actually commissioned by Will Ferrell for his Web site

"It's gonna rock," said Chris Richardson when asked about the Idols Live summer tour.

"Now the pressure is off – we're not competing for anything anymore," LaKisha noted.

So who do the "Idols" think received the worst slam from the always candid Simon Cowell? "Haley," Chris Sligh quickly answered, drawing a laugh from Scarnato. "It was when he was like, 'I can't even remember your name.' "

But apparently Haley Scarnato isn't the only one who Simon couldn't remember. "Don't take it too hard," Phil Stacey added. "He came up to me at the finale and said, 'Chris, how have you been doing?' "


BTW, here are more Idol-related "Access Hollywood" videos you can watch:

Jordin Sparks' first day as an Idol and her visit to "Access Hollywood"

Former Idols at this year's finale (almost all pushing new or upcoming recordings), including Constantine Maroulis, Diana DeGarmo, Paris Bennett, Ace Young, Jon Peter Lewis, Jasmine Trias, Mandisa and Scott Savol.

Kelly Clarkson fashion flashback after the finale.


Watch video of Melinda Doolittle on "Live With Regis and Kelly" singing "Home" (the song she sang on Diana Ross Week). Melinda, I'm running out to buy your first CD as soon as it's pressed!:


Watch video of Blake Lewis on "Today"

Watch video of Blake Lewis on "The Morning Show With Mike & Juliet"

Watch video of Blake Lewis performing on "The Early Show":

Watch video of Blake Lewis interview on "The Early Show":

Watch video of Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks signing autographs outside "Today":


It's an interesting phenomenon that there are A LOT more Blake Lewis videos being posted on than there are of Jordin Sparks. Did the right person really win?

Watch Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis at press interview after she won:

Watch video of Jordin Sparks on "The Morning Show With Mike & Juliet":

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© 2007

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