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“I don’t have many artists on the panel because artists don’t like finding another artist”: Simon Cowell

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CANNES: MIPCOM 2014 has kickstarted with some great content from across the globe and some great sessions. The biggest content market on day one saw an interesting question and answer session between producer and talent scout Simon Cowell, who has been named the ‘personality of the year’ and a former Got Talent judge Piers Morgan.

Excerpts…

Was it in your blood to be in the entertainment industry?

I loved entertainment since childhood. My dad was a very loyal guy, he told me one thing, whatever you do, remember that in every person, there is an invisible sign which says, “make me feel important.” And that’s how I started making my TV shows.

What was the key moment for you in the business? When you started work and then everything fell, everything you dreamed of, crashed, what did all that tell you?

If you work in TV, film, music business, only two things matter, stars and hits. I had nothing. When there is no training, you make more mistakes. I owned the bank half a million pounds. But in a way, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Although I don’t want to do it again!

You made the genius move of fusing the power of TV to power of music. You did it at a time when no one had thought of it…

 The truth is it was always there. Right from Elvis to Beetles, TV played a massive part in spreading their fame worldwide and for me I was very concerned about the stranglehold that radio companies had on record artists, and then I thought TV was the medium that I could use to connect with music.

You have been critical of the participants who come on X Factor and Got Talent, will you sober down with age?

In my business you have to become the audience permanently. So when I am editing and noting one of my shows, it has to be what I like and find emotional or funny. You can’t treat the audience like idiots. If somebody comes on stage and is literally tone-deaf, and if I say take a couple of singing lessons and you’ll be a star, they’ll think I’m mad. I am a perfectionist. The day you just let go without looking at it, that’s the day you lose it.

What about stars as judge on the show?  

I never wanted to put too many artists in the panel, because artists don’t want to find another artist.

About partnership with FremantleMedia…

Without FremantleMedia, I would not have been sitting here now. What I really liked about Fremantle was that it understood that the combination of a music company making a TV show was better than a TV company making a music show.

You created One Direction, through your show…

I don’t like the word ‘create’. I didn’t create them, I gave five people the opportunity to be in a group because I felt as a whole they would have a better chance of being successful because they were so young and inexperienced.

The groups, I have to admit, were terrible that year, but I felt these guys could work together. What I did was because that’s what I needed to do, I gave them the opportunity and the boys ran with the opportunity. It was a fantastic collaboration.

What happened to X Factor America?

I haven’t given up on the format in America. We just gave up on it too early.

How important are the broadcasters in each territory?

The broadcaster is one thing; it is the people in the channel who are important. They have trusted us and our partnership has been great.

What do you look in people when you look for partnerships?

Trust in both ways. If we didn’t have them trusting us in the first place, I wouldn’t have been here. They look after the shows and make it their own. That’s what I love.

Are you moving into movies?

Yes, but slowly. So we will do what we did in TV. My thought process is that with so many artists, I am looking at something like a High School Musical.

Why have you done so few shows?

Because it is difficult to come up with hit shows like X Factor or Got Talent. Too many shows will kill the market. The show these days are more about gimmick.

Do you see a problem with multi-screen viewing?

I don’t see a problem with it. If there are new ways of watching our shows, it is only to our advantage.

When you relook, what’s that one moment you look to?

The second week’s ratings of X Factor UK. The numbers had gone up by millions, as compared to the first week. So I felt really good.

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