tv Lou Dobbs Tonight FOX Business July 3, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
"strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. harvey levin: the objects people choose to keep in their home define who they are. this is... okay, are we starting? i'm harvey levin. this is the story of one of the most successful tv personalities and music producers in history, simon cowell. but before he became a household name, simon had his fair share of failures that left him flat broke. it's gotta be a little humiliating at 30 years old to fail so hard. but he would bounce back in a big way, producing a slew of shows and then conquering television with "american idol." what do you think of katy perry doing "idol?" good luck. ( laughs ) harvey: his personal life somewhat turbulent. an affair with a married woman would lead to his greatest joy, a son cast in his own image.
simon: i sat him down one day and i said, "i'm gonna teach you three very, very important letters for when you get your first girlfriend." i said, "it's n-d-a." a non-disclosure agreement? he'll be the first to tell you a healthy dose of ego never hurt anyone. i went to your office today, and saw a ten-foot picture of your face. every time i look at the picture, i feel good. tell me why. simon cowell, the man who forever changed the landscape of entertainment. - can i come in? - harvey: simon cowell! - come on in! - how are you? i'm good. thank you for inviting me to london, to your home. but this is like being at the biggest press conference in the world. ( harvey laughs ) it takes that to make you look good. - okay. - ( laughs ) - have a seat. - brilliant. what we're gonna do, um, is not focus on the achievements in your career. i want to get into how you became that guy who achieved that much. so i want to start at childhood.
- okay. - harvey: so tell me what this is. actually, this i think is my favorite picture, harvey. this-- ( laughs ) - this is a sign of things to come, by the way. - that's you. yeah, really miserable. that's one of my oldest brothers, tony. - harvey: right. - simon: that's my mom, julie. that's my dad, eric. that's my little brother nicholas, and that's me, so i think that was in bermuda. so i'm guessing i was about... i would say about four years old then. why that picture? why'd you say that one? it really shows who my mum and dad were. you know, i kind of looked at them as very glamorous. harvey: your mom looks like jackie kennedy. - simon: doesn't she? - harvey: yeah. simon: and then i look really, really pissed off. that's the sign of things to come. you were not an angel as a kid. no, i wasn't. i was really, really bad. - i heard a terrible story. - tell me. you burned santa claus? yeah, it was-- it was actually about this time. it was nicholas that still believed in santa claus, so i said, "let's set fire to his outfit," which we did. and not only did we kill santa claus, we actually nearly burnt the whole house down. - that's terrible. - so we murdered santa claus. you kind of had a privileged upbringing.
uh, yes. ( music playing ) we lived in a big house when we were growing up. nannies, housekeepers, gardeners, blah, blah, blah, on the south coast of england. harvey: were you spoiled as a kid? simon: well, i was-- ( laughs ) yes, i guess i was. actually my dad did spoil me. we would drive down-- we would get toys on a saturday, sweets on a sunday. he was terrible at discipline. - harvey: you were terrible at school. - simon: terrible. i was always in trouble, thrown out, suspended. - harvey: bad grades. - simon: horrendous. harvey: you ended up just quitting school, right? - yeah. - i have a little bit of trouble understanding how somebody as smart as you could just not give a damn about school and learning. - i thought it was a waste of time. - why? because i wasn't getting anything out of it. i kind of learned how to add up in my head. i could talk english. i could write english. learned a bit of french. and i just thought, "what else is there to learn?"
so if you feel that way, did you have a goal to say, "i'm gonna achieve x, and i know i can get there without school?" did you know what you were gonna do? yeah, i'll either be a film producer, i'll work in the music business, or i'll work in tv. and i didn't know what it meant, i just thought it'd be one of those three. your dad, he was a big influence in your life. yeah. yeah. harvey: his death came at a... shocking time in your life, didn't it? i used to play him a lot of the records we were working on, and he had an amazing ear for a hit. and we signed this group-- not many people believed in them, harvey, but he said, "i think this first record's gonna be a number one record." i said, "you really believe that?" he said, "yeah." ♪ i'm never gonna say good-bye ♪ ♪ 'cause i never want to see you cry ♪ ♪ i swore to you my love would remain ♪ ♪ and i'd swear it all over again ♪ so i was in boston, and i was at a sales and music conference, and i got news that day that the record was gonna be number one.
and of course the first thing i wanted to do was tell my mum and dad. and i phoned home, and i was talking to my mum, and i thought, "she's not really listening, you know?" i didn't know what was happening. of course, he had unfortunately already passed away at that point, - and they weren't gonna tell me. - harvey: that day? - yeah. - so you had a whole conversation with your mom - and she didn't tell you? - she didn't tell me, and then, uh... she, uh-- they took hold of somebody else, who then came into the room, my bedroom and told me. it's like, "christ." what do you take from your dad that makes you the guy you are now? well, i still talk to my mum and dad now, you know, in my mind. if i really have a difficult decision, or i'm struggling with something, i have a mental conversation with both of them, and i absolutely know what the answer is. it's the weirdest thing. do they generally steer you right or wrong? right. yeah. yeah. what is that? that's old.
i actually don't have lots of things i kind of like or have. but this, i decided, was my favorite thing. - why? - because it's like-- it's old, and it's got character, and it's been with me on a lot of trips and meetings, and-- - harvey: highs and lows? - simon: highs and lows. so, when you went off on your own, were you prepared for life? um, no. no. i think that if i could go back, and do one thing again at school, i would say one subject i think they should teach us is good life. and that means credit cards, what it means, debt, mortgages, interest rates. i wasn't taught that. i wasn't prepared for any of that. everything you just mentioned is about money. well, it does unfortunately have a big impact on your life, particularly when you haven't got any. and i didn't have any, and i had a lot of debt, and that's the time when you suddenly realize, "i have no idea what i'm dealing with here." so how'd you get into music? i got a job at emi music publishing in the mailroom,
which i used to have to walk around the west end of london with a mail cart. i actually was a bit intimidated in those days, because a lot of the guys my age who were in more kind of administrative roles, they used to look down at me, because i was their age, and i was delivering the mail. and then i met a friend of mine who was a manager. within three months, we started our own record label, and then i had my first hit. - which was? - a girl i was dating, actually, called sinitta. ♪ so macho ♪ he's gotta be ♪ so macho ♪ he's gotta be ♪ big and strong ♪ enough to turn me on simon: cute, fun, and i just thought, we should make a record with her, and i started this record label. i had £5,000. i made the record, the video, i was the promotion person. i sold the record into the stores. i was the distributor. it took a year and a half, and then eventually i had my first hit.
and you also had wonderdog. oh, god, harvey... ( music playing, dog barking in rhythm ) harvey: so, that was a big hit, but you kind of got in the act, didn't you? - simon: literally. - literally. i said, "well, what if we put a dog barking on a record for a joke?" i send it over to radio one, they play the record, massive reaction. we then created this character called wonderdog. the actor we paid didn't turn up, so i had to get in the stupid bloody suit... ( laughs ) interviewer: so then what do you do, then, in the evenings? just go out, have a quiet night in. if there's any trouble to be solved, i solve it. and have you got any hobbies? uh, not really, no. ( audience laughter ) i thought we were gonna make a lot of money-- - you were wonderdog. - well, yeah, because we were gonna-- i thought we were gonna make millions. we thought we were gonna have our own animated series. turns out that the guy who drew the dog ripped off tramp, you know, in "lady and the tramp"?
so then we get a letter from disney, cease and desist. whole thing comes crumbling down. we were a small company who was part of a bigger company. the bigger company collapsed, which meant we went down as well. when the bigger company was doing well, we all bought shares in the company. i borrowed a lot of money, thinking that the shares were gonna be worth a lot of money, so-- actually the shares were worthless. so now, i have no job, and i owe the bank half a million pounds. i think i had something like £3.00 or 4.00 cash in my pocket, and that was all the cash i had in the world. and i had to get from where i was to my parents' apartment... - 'cause you were moving in with them. - yes. - 30 years old. - yes. and i didn't know whether the £3.00 or 4.00 would cover the taxi fare. and i remember, we just about managed the taxi fare, and i was so relieved that i could pay it. so you literally go to your front door of your family home - flat broke. - completely. actually owing money, a lot of money. half a million pounds. it's gotta be a little humiliating at 30 years old - to fail so hard... - no. - ...and to move back in. - honest to god, no.
- no? - no, no. - that's when you-- - say, "hi, mom! hi, dad!" they were thrilled to have me back. - get out. - i swear. - they were absolutely thrilled. - it wasn't "our son, the failure"? no, they were like, "you know, it doesn't matter. you'll sort yourself out." i was happy. okay, i'm with you until "happy." you're 30 years old. you have ambition. you taste success. you lose it all. you move in with your parents. you're broke and you owe money. - and you're happy? - yeah. - why? - because i realized just how stupid i'd been. i still believed in myself. - did you? - yeah, i did, actually. yeah, i didn't have any doubts about that. i just thought maybe i was around the wrong people. i've got to sort myself out. did other people in the industry-- did they view you as a failure? of course, and certain people loved it. i mean, i had a tough time, i'm not gonna lie, and i was laughed at, i was humiliated. i was told i wouldn't succeed. the humiliation, some people crumble from it. - you didn't crumble. - no. no, i did feel some of the people who were mocking me
i considered to be stupid in return. music is a bitchy business. the worst. no, tv's as bad, actually, i've got to be honest. tv may be as bad, but it's a bitchy business. so there were a lot of people who took pleasure in seeing this kid fail. - yeah. - and did that make you think, "i'll show them"? i've learned over the years that revenge is sort of a bit of a waste of time. you know, the best revenge is when you're successful. harvey: so, when you look back, what about your failure made you ultimately succeed? i owned it. i didn't blame anyone else. it was my own responsibility. what's more important, money or art? - money. - why? you can buy art with money.
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okay, what's so special about this? - simon: it says "riva." - harvey: what does that mean? simon: riva. well, riva is like the best powerboat in the world. i love rivas, so i thought, "yeah, this is good." now we're gonna get into success. so, you're-- when you were living at home, at a point, you had to have a new plan. so what turned your life around? what turned my life around? i managed to get a deal with bmg.
- harvey: okay. - simon: i'm now past 30, harvey. and i start to understand, round about this age, that this is a business where anyone can buy your products. you can be young, middle-aged, you can be old. what can i do which sets me apart from everybody else? - so what could you do? - tv. and in the studio to pursue these points, morris veronique and simon cowell. simon: i started to see there was television, there was music, and how can i be the bridge between things being on tv and then selling records? it's just sort of-- i wouldn't say it was a light bulb moment. i just saw this massive opportunity. a friend of mine whose son had, um... had gone to see the wrestlers? they were called the wwf in those days. he said, "you know they've sold out wembley stadium, 82,000 seats in 27 minutes?" no artist in the world's doing that. i said, "let me have a look at it,"
and i watched the show, and it's like music everywhere, and i called up vince mcmahon, you know, blind call. i went, "can i have a conversation with someone about the music?" i just bought the music rights to the wwf. didn't know what i was gonna do with it. when i told my boss, she said, "what? they're wrestlers. what are you gonna do with it?" i said, "look, these kids are buying up everything. the music's a big part of it. we'll do it." she got on her knees, harvey, literally said, "i'm begging you not to do this." and i went, "well, i'm doing it." and i did it. i phoned up haim saban, 'cause he's got the power rangers, and i said, "how much do you want to sell me the power rangers music rights for?" and he gave me this astronomical figure. i said, "well, i haven't got that kind of money." he said, "well, why should i give it to you? i said, "'cause there's no gold disc, haim, on that wall." and he went, "you're right." and so he gave it to me for like 50 grand. again, i sold millions and millions of records. ♪ go, go, power rangers ♪ go, go, power rangers
- ♪ go, go, power rangers - man: again! ♪ i'm not singing anymore ♪ you've achieved so much. what is success? oh, god. the ability to do what you want to do in your life. what's it measured by? - by money, by gold records? - partly money. - money? - partly money, yeah. - enough-- - how much of a part is money? it's always a part. i've never met an artist or a producer who will do it for nothing. you aren't ashamed of the trappings of success. not ashamed of it, no. you have a beautiful home in london, you have a beautiful home in beverly hills. you go on great vacations, you... you know, you have a lot of money and you spend a lot of money. simon: living the dream. what's more important, money or art? - money. - why? you can buy art with money. harvey: you have had your share of accolades and awards. how important is that to you?
not as important as having hits. where do you see your biggest success? where do you see, "this was the seminal moment of my life?" too many times, harvey, because every hit has a meaning for me. i think, look, when-- ( stammers ) once you go over the age of 50, you always want to believe that you still are... - relevant? - yeah, relevant, yeah, yeah. - does that scare you? - yeah, yeah. because you don't want to be the dad dancing at the wedding. you got an email from itv in england, saying "america's got talent" was ( bleep ). they turned it down, and i had no buyer. saying "america's got talent" was ( bleep ). ♪ mmm, exactly!ug liberty mutual customizes your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need. nice! but uh, what's up with your partner?
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["foo♪ been working so hardns] i'm punching my card eight hours for what? oh, tell me what i got i've got this feeling that time's just holding me down i'll hit the ceiling or else i'll tear up this town ♪ when i'm thinking of an idea for a show, i write them out on a piece of paper. so this was-- i was in an apartment i lived in,
and i was watching a show, another show which had singers on, and this singer was so bad i thought to myself, "you know what? i would rather watch a show with a dancing dog. i'll make a show in which we have dancing dogs." and so that night i wrote out this format, and it's called "the best talent show in the world: the talent show." - which actually is "got talent." - harvey: "got talent." - ( cheers, applause ) - ( music playing ) good boy! so this is pretty true to form. it's pretty close. it's pretty close, yeah. i mean it's not complicated. it talks about how many people start, and it talks about how we narrow the people down. harvey: so this is a pretty good template. simon: yeah. actually, the interesting thing is, that is essentially the format, - and it's a half a page. - one of your business partners told me today that you got an email from itv in england, - saying this was ( bleep )? - simon: they turned it down,
and i had no buyer, so i went to america, and i just got a call out of the blue from nbc, and they said, "what's this show you're working on?" harvey: fast forward to that. so it's officially the biggest reality show in the world. and in more countries than any other show. yeah, it's now in about 100. ( music playing ) - that's amazing. one note... - yeah. - ...leads to that. - yeah, yeah, yeah. what do you look for when you see a thousand bands, a thousand singers, a thousand guys, a thousand girls, and you say, "that one has it." or, "if i could put that combination together." what do you look for? i see certain people in black and white, and then i see someone in full color. so carrie underwood was a really good example that year. i saw everyone else in black and white, and she was the one in color. what was the allure to get into tv?
i was offered to be a judge on a show called "pop stars." - right. - and i said yes, then i said no, and then i realized i'd made a mistake, because if i say no, i didn't get the rights to sign the group. it was very much... "if i don't get in this now, i'm gonna miss the train." this is "american idol" that you're talking about. yeah. all i was thinking about, harvey, was "i want to make sure my label is involved in this business, so whoever wins, we'll sign the artist." harvey: so you never really thought this was gonna be a huge hit, but it was gonna be a driver of music for you. simon: i thought we might have a couple of years, i'm gonna be honest with you. i wasn't paid the first year i went on tv, harvey. i wasn't even thinking about it. it was like, "i can probably do a better job at selecting the artists than anyone else, so i'll do it," and then, you know, it all went-- it all went kind of nuts. first of all, lose the accent, mary poppins. this is "american idol." you created this whole persona that is not really you,
'cause you're a nice guy. that went beyond horrific. - next. - one of the worst voices i've ever heard in my life. - next. - is there anything i could improve on or anything? yes. don't sing again. ugh! one of my favorite things you ever did was when... when you asked somebody who their music teacher was. - are you taking singing lessons? - yes, i do. - do you have a lawyer? - no, i don't have a lawyer. get a lawyer, and sue her. seriously. i'm serious. - yeah. - ( harvey laughing ) just hilarious. well, yeah, i mean, i have to be honest. in the beginning-- because i actually found the whole process so miserable, the filming, i'm not kidding... - it just put you in a bad mood. - i hated it. i got so frustrated. now, if you actually did the whole show, i was not grumpy the whole time. they just decided, the producers, it would be funnier to see me looking really miserable and whatever, whatever. - so this was an accident. - sort of, yeah. so, accidentally, you stumble on something that in some ways is even bigger than your music business.
yeah. yeah. uh, yes. i mean, to be honest, we didn't think in those days that the show might be more valuable than the music component. god was smiling on us, because i can remember someone said to me, "what are you looking for?" i said, "i just believe in this country there is probably a-- an artist, probably a girl, probably a cocktail waitress who's tried to get a record deal, who's got an amazing voice, and just can't get a break," 'cause this is pre-youtube. and then, the person who wins is an ex-cocktail waitress, a girl who tried to get a record deal with a great voice, and it was like-- it was unbelievable. it was like a movie. ♪ oh, i can't believe it's happening to me ♪ whoo! ( laughs ) ♪ a moment like this would simon cowell be simon cowell without paula abdul? no, no. god was really smiling at us on the day she turned up.
i mean, i realized in five minutes-- well, first of all, i didn't think she'd last the day. - harvey: she quit eight times. - simon: lunchtime, she quit. - harvey: yeah. - simon: then three other times that day. but i was thinking, "this is incredible." i mean, i got it. i feel like quitting this show right now, i really do, because i think he's one of the best singers we've heard. it's definitely a no. why'd you leave? oh, i just couldn't bear it at the end, harvey. i mean, it just became-- it wasn't fun. sometimes with success, it becomes a happy place. sometimes success becomes the opposite, it's not a happy place. and once you get to that point, and once you get that sunday evening feeling, or the monday morning feeling, which is "god, i've gotta go to work today," i always promise myself then it's time to stop, and i got that. there was also a $40 million paycheck to ease the pain. the money was good, i'm not gonna lie. - you walked away from a lot of money. - yeah, it was a lot. i'm blown away by "x-factor." you know what, ashley?
this is why we brought the show to america, to find somebody like you. i'm blown away by how many stars you created off that show. simon: that's been a good one. harvey: that's been a huge one. - bigger than "idol" for you? - simon: yeah. yeah, i mean, in terms of sales, yeah. but interestingly, i think "america's got talent" is gonna become, i hope, an incredible showcase for new artists as well. - really? - i really do. - as big as "x-factor"? - could be, yeah. what do you think of singers judging singers? i don't get it. because it makes them insecure. ( stammers ) they don't think that way. i mean, you think madonna wants to find madonna? you think she wakes up tomorrow morning going, "i'm really hoping the next madonna comes along, and i need to do something about it." she's going, "no, i want madonna to be more successful." and i totally get that. so when i see them judging these shows, it's like, "whoa." - that's a big statement. - that's true. what do you think of katy perry doing "idol"?
good luck. ( laughs ) simon: i wasn't kind of prepped to be a dad. i think he was about two and a half. i sat him down one day and i said, "i'm gonna teach you three very, very important letters for when you get your first girlfriend." he's looking at me, and i said, "it's n-d-a." - oh, no! - yeah. a non-disclosure agreement?
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- wow, is that the first one? - yeah. yeah. - was this planned? - no. ( harvey laughs ) boy, did you say that fast. no, darling, but... - ...at my age, i was 53, 54? - right. so, you know, i wasn't kind of prepped to be a dad. ( music playing ) - this kid changed you. - yeah. - how so? - well, because, you know, we've known each other a long time and i don't think we've ever spoke about me being a dad or having kids. i mean, i was quite happy you know, living on my own, and-- - harvey: you seemed very happy. - simon: yeah. and i thought, you know, "could i be a good father at my age? you know, do i know what to do?" and blah blah blah. and you know, then this happened, the scan, and then, um, for the first year, i did find it difficult, because, you know, up to the age of one and a half, they don't know how to communicate with you,
and you don't know how to communicate with them. and i was thinking, "god, i'm gonna be terrible at this," and then one day, something clicks and you start talking to each other. then, whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, you suddenly realize, "my god, they're becoming me!" and then you become friends. it's the weirdest, most incredible thing. so now, at three and a half, he's like my best friend. - really? - 100%, and he really, really makes me laugh. so, if you had to be on a desert island for the rest of your life with either me or mummy, who would it be? - why? - why? like father, like son. harvey: do you kind of mold him in your image? simon: well, it was very funny, and i got into trouble for this. i think he was about two and a half. i sat him down one day and i said, "i'm gonna teach you three very, very important letters for when you get your first girlfriend." he's looking at me, and i said, "it's n-d-a." - oh, no! - yeah.
a non-disclosure agreement? - so, seriously... - you actually told this kid that? yeah. so he re-- so lauren comes in, and i said, "eric, what's the first thing you're gonna do when you get a girlfriend?" and he goes, "daddy says i have to get an nda." - oh, no! - "you taught him that?" i went, "well, pretty good advice." ( music playing ) so what attracted you to lauren? well, chemistry, i think. you know, sense of humor. when you're so committed to your work, to be with one person, i'm not gonna lie, it's hard. and you've gotta-- i think you've gotta find a partner - who gets what you do. - harvey: understanding. understanding. not that everything is about work, but of course, i'm not gonna lie, it plays such an important part, and if someone doesn't get or like what you do or doesn't contribute to it, then i think you have a problem. there are people on sets and, you know, people who work in the music business who don't like it when they feel like
you know, that the spouse or the girlfriend is kind of now, all of a sudden, in the person's ear more than the people who were there before. - is that an issue? - you do get that, i'm not gonna lie. 'cause i ask her to come to meetings with me, because i think, look, it's not secret information. you might as well-- since i'm gonna talk about it later, you might as well hear about it now. then i don't have to explain it to you a second time. and there are times when she's talking-- and she can talk, and i'm watching other people, and it's kind of like, "here we go." so now it's the girlfriend. but everyone has an opinion, and she's passionate about what we do, so i encourage her. they ever talk about yoko ono? ( laughs ) we haven't got to the yoko place yet. harvey: when you met lauren, she was married. - simon: yeah. - harvey: and things do happen but i'm wondering how you navigated that. well, i mean, i'm not proud of what i did, but then i asked myself the question-- i did this recently-- which is, "would i have done it again, knowing what i did?" of course i wouldn't.
but then i go, "but then i wouldn't have eric." so there is the juxtaposition, because that is your destiny. and because, you know, i still talk to lauren's husband now, you know, and everything is in a much better place than it was. and like i said, it's something i'm uncomfortable with, i'm not proud of, but at the same time, i have lauren and eric, so that's the crazy place you're in. do you feel like in the future you're gonna guide eric toward show business, away from show business? you have an opinion about that? he has-- he has-- he has to take over from me. are you gonna sit in daddy's seat today? - i think you'd be a really good judge. - i am. - are you? - yes. simon: i mean, i've put him in training now. - he's here. - let's do this. - ( laughter ) - he said, "let's do this." simon: i mean, he's down at the shows, he has ear plugs on. ( buzzer buzzes ) - ( buzzer buzzes repeatedly ) - god!
he said, "well, how come everyone knows your name?" i said, "because i'm on tv, and lots of people watch tv." so i was explaining that to him. "why do people laugh at you when they see you?" i said, "i don't know, eric, they find me funny." but so now, when i'm having my picture taken, he thinks that he wants to be in the picture as well, so he's kind of like, "can i have a selfie?" and then he stands next to me, 'cause he thinks they want him as well, 'cause they do, more than me now. but no, i would absolutely love it, harvey, if he could do what i do. what if he gravitates to academics? then fine, i would encourage him. i have a feeling he's gonna be more like me. - because you hope or because you think? - i hope, yeah, yeah. i mean, i'm not gonna lie. i would love him to one day say-- not that, you know, that i'd give him the company, but to say, "can i work for you and learn how to do it?" i mean, that would make me feel incredible. and then you've kind of got a legacy, and you know, i didn't think like that before. i think it would be amazing. serious question. you've heard about a lot of kids who are in show business who get screwed up. - yeah, that's true. - does that worry you?
- yeah, it does. - sounds like he's kind of a showman. now, i'm talking to you i'm actually thinking this, harvey. i mean, i hadn't thought about this. maybe you're right. but at the same time, even if he wanted to be on camera, i would explain to him like i did what the reason for doing it is. harvey: yeah, but then when people see simon cowell walk on stage and everybody applauds and they see adulation and all this, it's intoxicating for a kid. i'm trying not to talk you out of it, but-- i don't think there's much i can do about it now. i mean, he's always gonna be there doing what i do. i think that the one-- the good thing is, as we're having this conversation-- i said to you earlier, it's a bit like doing a therapy session. i was thinking as i was talking to you, i have a lot to be thankful for, harvey. i'm not actually screwed up myself that bad, you know, compared to what i've been through. i kind of get the balance, and i wouldn't change anything that took me to this place. so i'm happy-- i mean, i genuinely am happy. i don't think i would've said that to you 20 years ago,
that i was happy. so if he can end up where i am, i would be happy with that. simon: for one direction, there was just that moment where i suddenly went, "oh, my god, how can i let these people go? but i can't put all of them through, but they look amazing together. let's put them into a group, see how they get on," and that was it. has been excellent. they really appreciate the military family and it really shows. with all that usaa offers why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago. it was funny because when we would call another insurance company, hey would say "oh we can't beat usaa" we're the webber family. we're the tenney's we're the hayles, and we're usaa members for life. ♪ get your usaa auto insurance quote today. it's something we take personally,
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so this is one of my most, um... you know, prized possessions, which is for one direction and this is for 50 million records. harvey: i believe this number is almost double now. - probably, yeah. - i think you're, like, 95. - yeah. - they're, uh... a great source of joy for you, aren't they? simon: amazing, yeah. i mean, this was one of those moments when it happened, and it really wasn't premeditated. - we'd-- - is that so? yeah. 100%, yeah. so they-- they go on "x-factor" - as individuals. - yes. yeah. harvey: so this wasn't planned, that you were gonna do this? no. for whatever reason, they didn't get through, but when they were standing there after we'd said no to them, there was just that moment where i suddenly went, "oh, my god. how can i let these people go? but i can't put all of them through, but they look amazing together.
let's put them into a group and see how they get on." and that was it. we decided to put you both through, together-- ( audience screaming ) - this was not planned out. - absolutely not. harvey: one of the biggest groups ever, just an accident because there weren't enough spots. simon: there weren't enough spots. what-- what is it you're seeing that other people don't see? susan boyle was an example to me of what an idiot i could be, because i judged that girl, along with the audience. when she walked on stage on "got talent," i'm muttering to the person next to me, "please, god, she's not gonna sing." i'm trying to be a professional singer. simon: and why hasn't it worked out so far, susan? susan: i've never been given the chance before, but here's hoping it'll change. doing the pre-interview with her, i'm thinking, "this is not gonna go well." then when she sings, it's like, "oh, my god." ♪ i dreamed a dream in time gone by ♪ ( cheers, applause ) simon: when that tape was delivered to me back in london, and i watched it, the edit,
i thought, "i hate myself right now." - you hate yourself because you prejudged it? - yeah, but i said, "it's gotta go out the way it is." i knew the minute you walked out... - ( laughter ) - oh, simon! on that stage... that we were gonna hear something extraordinary, and i was right. as you get older, and you're still, you know, to some extent playing to 13, 14, 15-year-olds. are you relying more on young people in your world to help you or do you still do it on your own? i'm a great, great listener with kids. you know, um... i like kids to have fun. you know, so i'm not, like, strict, or judgmental. harvey: but this is business, it's not fun. so when somebody-- when you're not sure of some record that you're listening to, do you call young people in to listen, - and do you-- - i don't-- i don't ask them, i watch. and it's very interesting, because people react to certain things when they're not actually directly asked to have an opinion.
and that is part of the secret of knowing when something is good or not. i've learned doing this job, you listen to the audience behind you. ( cheers, applause ) - oh. - simon: um... i'm gonna say yes. what is the most disappointing thing that's happened to you where you wanted to keep a group together, an artist, and it just didn't work out? i would say one direction, i would have liked to have had them for another two years as a group. but at the point zayn literally just left, that was the point when we knew it's over. i was sad about that, but one day, one day maybe there's another record, but at the same time it's like, you can't make people be together, so... i got it. harvey: i went to your office today. ( laughs ) i know what you're gonna say. and saw a 10-foot picture of your face.
- simon. - and? and. you're staring at you. yes. every time i look at the picture, i feel good. ♪ here i go again on my own ♪ goin' down the only road i've ever known ♪ ♪ like a-- ♪ drifter i was ♪born to walk alone! you're a drifter? i thought you were kevin's dad. little bit of both. if you ride, you get it. geico motorcycle. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more.
- simon. - and? and. you're staring at you. yes. every time i look at the picture, i feel good. harvey: tell me why. simon: it makes me happy. you have a big ego, don't you? oh, and you don't? i didn't say i didn't. you have to have a big ego if you do what we do, or what i do, definitely. why? well, because, there's no point trying to pretend to be humble - the whole time, you know, like-- - ( dogs barking ) okay, here-- these dogs are turning into, like, pack dogs. okay, squiddly and diddly. come on, diddly. ( kisses ) come on, sweetheart. come on, come here. ( kisses ) come here, diddly. - come on up. - come here. good boy. yeah, so, you can do the whole humble thing: "yeah, it's always a team effort, blah, blah, blah." but the truth is it's not always. and you have to recognize that you play a part in what you do, or you're good at what you do. i mean, it might sound odd saying it, but it is-- it's a fact. is it that you look at yourself and you see "wow, look what i've achieved"?
is it you just think you're so hot? both. mirror, mirror on the wall... mel b: who has the biggest ego of all? who has the biggest ego of them all? - mel b, whispers: it's you, simon. - it's mel. god, i look good. i'm not gonna kid you. every time i go to work at nbc, and you've got the security guy, and they say your name, and they lift the barrier up, every time it happens, i pinch myself. - it's like-- - it's a validation. i can't believe it. i'm act-- not only am i allowed through the gates, i'm actually working in hollywood. you can't take that for granted. - you love being a celebrity. - for sure. it's funny. i feel like you don't need validation, because you've got success. but on another level, it feels like either you need or love or want that validation. that's a good point. that's a very good point, and i think maybe ratings, or people knowing who you are is that validation of when you're trying to be successful. that is the ultimate validation. - does it make you insecure? - no. well, it might go away.
yeah, it will go away, but i think i'd walk away before it went away. you know, the show goes forward, it will be different, but i just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. how do you deal with age, then? because it generally doesn't get a lot better. dr. lancer. harvey: plastic surgery. botox. simon: botox. lasers. i wouldn't have a facelift. you are fighting age, - and i might say, succeeding. - thank you. but at a point, you know, ( stammers ) if you don't surrender, it's not a happy ending. you don't want to look decrepit, so you gotta look after yourself a little bit. howie, have you ever had botox? - no. do you do botox? - what do you think? - what does it even do? - ask me to look surprised. look surprised. now be happy. be sad. wow, what a range you have. - ( heidi laughs ) - that's amazing. all in all, um...
you are a vain guy with a big ego and a huge amount of success who now has a kid, and still sometimes worries that you gotta stay relevant. is simon cowell a happy man? - i'll take that. - no, i'm asking. yes, no, i genuinely can say that. i can look you in the eye now and say, "yes, i'm happy." and i think of all the things i ever wanted in my life, that was number one on the list. - being happy. - yeah. - simon... - ( kisses ) - thank you so much. - you're a star. thank you so much. - are you vain? - yes. are you? - yes. - good, that's why we're friends. for life. i mean that. - um... - you're more vain than i am. i was just about to say, you're so much more vain than me. - no. you hide it well. - oh, my god, simon. - no, harvey, and i mean that, and i love you, - simon... i only mean it as a compliment, but you are. simon, that is so not true. how long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
five min-- ( laughs ) simon, tell me the truth. a little bit longer. 11 minutes, start to finish. how long does it take you? an hour? >> a "strange inheritance" mystery... >> i thought, "what? what is going on?" >> ...a norman rockwell shocker. >> is it a fake? >> well, this was the question that was in everyone's mind. >> oh, if these walls could talk. >> i want you to put your hands like this, and we're going to pull it toward me. >> aah! >> there you go. >> oh, my goodness. >> keep going. ♪ [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] ♪ >> i'm jamie colby in arlington, vermont, once home to norman rockwell. it was also home to a man who left his children