Piers Morgan: People Would Be Surprised To See Simon Cowell's Private Anxiety Before He Performs in
Piers Morgan in Cannes with Simon Cowell as he is awarded the main ‘Personality of the Year’ honour at the MIPCOM Television Festival.
Simon flew me in from LA to interview him on stage in front of 4,000 delegates.
‘Better the devil you know,’ he explained. ‘I’ll sharpen my horns,’ I replied.
I found him backstage, smoking furiously and fretting.
People would be surprised to see Simon’s private anxiety before he performs in public.
Everyone assumes he’s always the super-confident persona we see on TV. But, one of the reasons he’s so successful is because he worries so much about every tiny detail of what he does.
I retold the story of how Simon first created the Got Talent format, the phenomenal success of which was one of the main reasons for his award.
We had lunch in 2005 and he casually announced he was going to bring back an all-round talent show.
‘There used to be loads of them like New Faces and Opportunity Knocks in England and The Gong Show in America. 'Now there’s nothing like it airing anywhere. I’m going to revive it with three judges, three buzzers and any act from dancing dogs to fire-eaters – and I want you involved.’
A month later, we filmed a pilot called Paul O’Grady’s Got Talent with Simon, me and Fern Britton as judges – and delighted ITV bosses green-lit a full series straight away. But O’Grady then defected to Channel 4, so ITV shelved it. Simon persisted.
Six weeks later, he texted me to say he’d sold the rights to NBC in America.
‘I can’t be on the panel because of my American Idol contract. So I need someone as arrogant and obnoxious as me and your name immediately sprang to mind.’
‘I feel like Dr Frankenstein,’ Simon sighed when he saw me in my trailer on the Paramount movie lot.
Britain’s Got Talent followed, and now, incredibly, Got Talent has been sold to 67 countries, making it officially the most successful entertainment programme ever. (The X Factor is not far behind.)
A giant map appeared on screen, with every part of the world where Got Talent airs coloured blue.
‘Most of the remaining white area is ocean,’ I explained, ‘where even Mr Cowell’s tentacles cannot reach.’
‘Yet,’ he responded.
‘But there is a massive white blob of land amid all the blue – Mongolia. Why have you never sold Got Talent to Mongolia, Simon?’
He stared at the screen in horror.
‘I didn’t know that. You’ve just made me very unhappy.’ ‘Does Mongolia not have any talent?’
‘Every country has talent. This is not good, I’m going to investigate the Mongolia situation as soon as this is over.’
Everyone laughed, but knowing how competitive Simon is, I could tell he was being deadly serious.
Tonight, we partied with his girlfriend Lauren Silverman at a beach bar on the famous Cannes Croisette.
I looked at this man I’ve known for 25 years and reflected on an astonishing career in which he’s sold 350 million records, produced two of the world’s biggest TV shows, made a Scottish spinster called Susan Boyle a global superstar and created One Direction – one of the biggest pop bands in history.
Yet, he still wasn’t happy.
And his misery wasn’t just because he made me a star in America.
‘Mongolia’s really bothering me,’ he insisted.
At midnight, a Syco executive appeared. ‘I’ve got some breaking news,’ he said. ‘We just sold Got Talent to Mongolia.’
‘Are you serious?’ exclaimed Simon. ‘One hundred per cent.’ A massive smirk broke across his face.
Tonight, Simon received his award at a glittering ball.
Ella Henderson sang three songs (beautifully), then a video was played paying tribute to the guest of honour, featuring a host of big names including Oprah Winfrey, Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Weinstein, Pharrell Williams and David Cameron.
Simon walked up on stage, took a deep breath and to my astonishment choked up with tears.
‘My life has changed so much for the better this year,’ he sobbed, ‘thanks to Lauren and my son Eric.’
He said a few thank yous, then the tears ran freely again. ‘I just wish my dad was here to see this.’
He came back to our table and hugged Lauren – who was also crying. I have never seen him so emotional.
Source and full interview: MailOnline