Simon CowellTV Personality / Music Producer
Born: 7 October 1959
Birthplace: Brighton, England
Best known as: The obnoxious judge on TV's American Idol
Simon Cowell is a music producer and executive of the BMG UK record company whose blunt assessments of the contestants on TV's American Idol made him the most talked about personality on the show's panel of judges. Cowell has been in the pop music business in the United Kingdom since the 1970s, and is credited with "discovering" such pop stars as the boy band Westlife and the pop duo Robson and Jerome. Cowell's specialty is marketing TV and pop music together, and in 2001 he hosted the forerunner to American Idol, England's U.K. Pop Idol. When the U.S. version hit it big, it not only made stars out of performers Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, it also made stars out of host Ryan Seacrest and talent judges Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. His direct criticisms of the contestants and general cattiness made him the guy audiences loved to hate, and he was rewarded after the first season of the show with a contract that made him the highest paid judge on the panel.
Extra credit: Cowell's criticism also helped make a star of tone-deaf Idol auditioner William Hung.
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