Cowell’s Confession: Simon Says, “I Was Wrong”
Although Simon has very occasionally apologized to a harshly criticized American Idol contestant, Simon rarely admits he's made a mistake. And to be honest, he rarely DOES make a mistake. Sometimes--in fact, most of the time--his critiques are unnecessarily cruel, but they're usually dead-on correct.
However, in a letter to U.K. paper The Daily Mail this past weekend, Simon discussed his other popular show, Britain's Got Talent, after an extremely controversial season that included sobbing underage contestants and the very public post-finale emotional meltdown of frontrunner Susan Boyle after she placed second. "I, of course, am inevitably portrayed as the evil ringmaster. I didn't get into show business to make little children cry or upset a nice lady like Susan Boyle," Simon wrote. "The time has finally come for me to set a few things straight."
He added, candidly: "And I'm the first to hold my hands up and admit I've made mistakes."
First, Simon addressed the children on the show, as much of the BGT backlash has centered on accusations that the younger contenders were exploited for TV drama (like 10-year-old "baby Beyonce" Natalie Okri, who cried and called Simon a "meanie" after he eliminated her in the semi-final round; or 12-year-old drummer Kieran Gaffney, who appeared crestfallen when he didn't make it to the finals; or 10-year-old singing ballerina Hollie Steel, who nervously broke down in the middle of one of her live performances and bawled hysterically, begging for another chance, until Simon nicely granted her a do-over).
"You just can't imagine how awful it was, sitting in my judge's chair, watching 10-year-old Hollie Steel start to cry in front of millions as she struggled to remember the lines of her song," Simon wrote. "Oh God, it was terrible. Poor child. So I decided to let her come back later in the show to sing again. I was acting on instinct, thinking on my feet, just as I've always tried to do throughout my 30-odd years in the entertainment industry. In this instance, I thought giving Hollie a second chance was the right thing to do. Yet, ironically, I have had more complaints about Hollie being allowed to perform twice than anything else on the show."
Simon continued: "Yet, perhaps my biggest regret of this year was...with Aidan Davis, the 11-year-old street dancer from Birmingham. In the final, I made him cry, too, by describing his performance as lackluster--it was a huge, huge mistake. It almost ruined the whole evening for everyone...I had treated him as I would an adult, forgetting that he was only an 11-year-old child with a dream. I apologized to him afterwards, but it didn't make me feel any better about it. Moral of the story? I don't always get it right. Looking back, I know I could've been kinder."