Simon Says

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simon kvil Simon Says

I miss Paula

The ninth season of “American Idol” has just this week announced its Top 24 –12 guys and 12 gals who hope to take the top title and become the next singing sensation. So how does judge [lastfm]Simon Cowell [/lastfm]rate the new contestants and new judge Ellen DeGeneres?

“I wouldn’t say that we didn’t get on well,” Simon says when asked about rumors of problems between him and Ellen. “It was a difficult position for her because she started work on Hollywood week, which is quite a difficult show to do. There was one story I read that said I turned up an hour late or something and she wanted to film. The truth was, I think I turned up 15 or 20 minutes late because I did a press conference earlier in the day. They did start filming, but that wasn’t a particular problem. There was no fall out. I was trying to guide her through the week and that was about it, really.”

But the Brit wit goes on to say that the judges’ table isn’t quite the same without [lastfm]Paula Abdul[/lastfm].

“Amazingly, even though we used to argue a lot, she was somebody I got close to,” he says. “We would hang out together after the show. She always made me laugh. She was funny. It is not having your friend on the show any more, so I do miss her.”

Unless you have been off living in a cave somewhere, you know that this is Simon’s last season on “American Idol.” He is leaving to start his own talent competition, “The X Factor,” which will also air on FOX. And while he says he has received several phone calls from people who are interested in taking over his seat on the judges’ panel, he isn’t volunteering anyone for the position.

[pullquote quote=””You are never going to pick anybody as good as you, are you? That is why nobody asks me that question,” “]he jokes. But more seriously, he says the person who replaces him needs to know what they are talking about.

“I think more and more now that we have to put people on these shows who actually know what they are talking about,” he says. “They have to have experience. So you can not just criticize, you can actually offer constructive advice as well.”

In so saying, he isn’t putting down Ellen. He believes she was a good choice to replace Paula.

“She actually is very responsible for people she has performing on her own show. I know that for a fact because I have dealt with her as a record label,” Simon says. “She loves music and she has been an artist. So no, it wasn’t meant to dis her credentials. It was specifically talking about my replacement.”

And Simon, who predicts one of the women could win this season, adds, “I want to go out on a high. It is my last season. I want it to be successful.”

“American Idol” returns next Tuesday at 8 p.m. when the 12 women picked for the Top 24 will perform live on FOX. -ET

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