Mirror reporter Mark Jefferies is given a tour of the X Factor judge's home - and learns that everything isn't black and white for the music mogul.
Getting into Simon Cowell’s Los Angeles mansion is a fraught affair. You don’t expect a rich and famous TV mogul to answer his own front door but the guard who welcomes me, if that’s the right word, seems very suspicious.
He’s monitoring two 40in screens which scan the X Factor chief’s private world. There are cameras on Simon 24/7 even when he’s not starring in his hit TV shows.
After being carefully vetted I am finally allowed into the kitchen where the world’s most famous Yorkshire terriers, Squiddly and Diddly, are soon yapping at my feet. Several staff are on hand and I can’t help noticing that there are seven ovens.
After giving both dogs a cuddle I am given a quick tour and realise this is a monochrome mansion. Framed black-and-white photos of Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis Jr share wall space with new pictures of Simon, girlfriend Lauren Silverman and seven month old Eric.
ll the roses on display, tightly bunched in square vases, are white ones and even the giant sofas are grey. There is no sign of mess or children’s toys. It seems that Eric’s play space is restricted to upstairs.
“I don’t like clutter,” Simon admits with a smile. “I don’t really like bright colours in a house, I think they’re annoying. The whole idea of the house was sort of old Hollywood, because I love that era.”
Despite appearances, the arrival of Eric on Valentine’s Day this year has made a difference to his domestic life.
Simon, who turns 55 on Tuesday, says: “There’s more colour. He’s got a red racing car which I can’t wait for him to drive. That’s what I’m most looking forward to – teaching him to be a go-kart driver. His room is the most colourful room in the house – until he reaches seven. Then he’ll be like me.
“And I guess there is a new energy, yeah. It definitely feels more like a home. There’s more of a nice atmosphere.
“It’s definitely louder. Not to the point where everybody thought I was going to be getting up at five in the morning and all that kind of stuff.
“He’s been a very, very happy baby. The other night I heard him cry at 4.30 in the morning so I went up to see him and within five minutes he was back to sleep, happy again. Definitely a happier house.”
There are four bedrooms, a nursery and a cinema room. “That’s something I dreamed of as a kid – it’s my favourite room,” he says proudly. In the unlikely event that Through The Keyhole’s cameras get a look inside, there are plenty of clues a TV bigwig lives here. As well as the cinema, in a downstairs lounge Simon has stuck four 50ins screens together to create an enormous TV for entertaining.
Then there are the grounds. The front drive is a macho car zone with a vintage Ford Bronco, a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce. But the rear garden, where Simon spends most of his time, is surprisingly calm. Lemon and olive trees share space with a lawn, a black tiled pool and a water feature which can shoot fire.
Lauren, meanwhile gets the staff to serve us Sapporo beer and Simon’s favourite crudités (purple broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and cucumber with dips). There are fresh pizzas from two ovens in the garden too. So just the nine ovens in total.
As the auditions begin, it is clear that most of Simon’s “harem” of ex-girlfriends is here. Sinitta is helping judge the singers and Lauren’s immediate predecessor Mezhgan Hussainy is doing his make-up. Lauren, in a black top and white jeans like Mezhgan, is sitting watching with her sister, mother and her son Adam from her first marriage.
“I like having an audience there because it’s important to see how other people react, otherwise it’s stony silence.
“And if it’s people you know it helps you make your decision,” says Simon, who will be at the Pride of Britain Awards with Lauren on Monday.
He seems happy with his singers and with the show. The X Factor is playing catch-up with Strictly Come Dancing but is building momentum going into the live shows next weekend.
He’s also delighted with the chemistry on the panel with LouisWalsh, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Mel B alongside him. He says newcomer Mel is a good judge for a very saucy reason.
“She is a horndog!” he says cheekily. “When she is feeling horny she has a better day. That is pretty much every day. But she hasn’t tried it on with me!”
And Cheryl? “I think she has been amazing.” he says. “You are starting to see a different side to her, winding me up about having a wee by pouring water into a glass then this mad lapdance with Mel. I loved it. Louis looked a bit confused. Mel and Cheryl really do get on well. Honest to God, the second we started it was like we had been doing it for years. And Mel gets off a plane from America, a seven-hour trip, walks into the audition room and she is bang on it.
“Her focus is incredible. And Cheryl has come back as a different person. She looks great, she is funny, she has an opinion – everything you want in a judge. It’s too early to say if it will be the same panel next year, but it is working.”
After Sam Bailey’s comfortable win last year, Simon is convinced there will be a real battle for the X Factor crown.
“No one was going to beat that girl but this year it’s going to be a proper competition again,” he says. Put like that, it all seems black and white.