This has not been a good week for Simon Cowell.
On Friday, the journalist Tom Bower published the music mogul’s “unofficial” biography (Sweet Revenge: the Intimate Life of Simon Cowell), which exposed, amongst other things, an affair with ex-X Factor judge Dannii Minogue.
In the days leading up to publication, the papers were packed with stories about Cowell’s apparent inability to commit to one woman, along with headlines about Dannii’s alleged feelings of betrayal.
Cowell allowed Bower access to his lifestyle and he was also happy for friends to talk to Bower. I know this because Bower phoned me and I declined to be interviewed, even though Simon had no objection.
So, has Cowell just been uncharacteristically naïve in, effectively, giving the thumbs-up to the project, even though he has not “collaborated” per se?
It can’t be comfortable to be painted as a cad with several women on the go (Sharon Osbourne has now stuck her two penneth in by announcing this), nor as someone who talks about women in what have been described as derogatory terms (it is claimed that he said the affair with Dannii was “just a few bonks”).
But has he really done anything so terrible? To me, it is a complete non-story: “Single man has sex.” So flamin’ what! And is talking about a couple of bonks really so bad? That’s not kissing and telling; in my book, that’s nothing more than recalling fondly.
Also, let’s not forget how kind Simon has been to all his exes, who remain his friends. He gave ex-fiancee Mizhgan Hussainy a house reported to be worth $8 million; his previous girlfriend, Terri Seymour received one of lesser value (if I were Terri, I’d ask him for a big extension to make up the shortfall!).
Is it "paying" someone off (as has been reported) if you give them a house when you want to move on? No, it’s showing incredible respect and acknowledging that when a relationship ends (and they do, for goodness sake), it does not have to be the end of friendship; it is just the start of a new kind of relationship.
To me, recognising a new beginning in the end is a sign of incredible maturity. All I end up with at the end of relationships is an overdraft the size of a house, having bailed out another loser.
I have known Simon for many years. He is mega smart, very focused, very funny and very kind. He has been adorable to my family and friends when he has given us tickets to his shows on both sides of the Atlantic; and he has been a supportive friend who has offered good advice when I have gone through bad times.
I admire him both personally and professionally, and to have achieved huge success in the US as well as the UK is an achievement of breathtaking proportion. If he is harsh in his judgments over the panel choices in his shows, it is because he has to be; vast sums of money are at stake, and if the product is not right, even more heads will roll.
This isn’t just entertainment, it is big business, even more so in US television, which eats people for breakfast and spews them out mercilessly.
Simon sacked Cheryl Cole from US X Factor because she simply didn’t cut the mustard; she had a great opportunity and blew it by not playing hardball and putting herself out there the American way.
Simon may be an emotional person and, at heart, a romantic, but is also the consummate professional, and he hasn’t worked this hard for this long, building a formidable reputation, to see some girlie tantrums blow it all away.
He will ride the storm of this book, as he has ridden so many others. The man is a genius. A very nice genius, too. Complex, but nice.
So, Simon: do I get my house now?