Simon Cowell says he and Ellen DeGeneres aren’t in a feud and that he’s "fairly certain" nobody has asked Howard Stern to replace him on "American Idol."
Cowell made the remarks Thursday during a conference call with reporters in which he spent a good chunk of time dealing with all manner of tabloid rumors — along with the question of who should replace him when he leaves after this season.
On the Ellen front, Cowell dismissed one Internet blog’s claim that he was an hour late to DeGeneres’ first day of taping, causing tension between the two.
"The truth is, I think I turned up 15 or 20 minutes late because I did a press conference," he said. "That wasn’t a particular problem. There was no fallout."
He added that he "wouldn’t say that we don’t get on well."
Cowell was also asked about the it-just-won’t-die story that "Idol" producers have talked to Stern about replacing him as a judge. While Fox won’t comment, Cowell had no problem laughing off the notion.
"I’m fairly certain there hasn’t been an approach at any time for Howard to do this show," he said.
"He obviously wants the job," Cowell joked. "Good luck to him."
Cowell said his replacement needs to have experience in the music business, as either a performer, executive or manager: "You’ve got to know what you’re talking about," he said.
Stern, he said, "doesn’t fit any of those criterion."
One reporter suggested that by that standard, perhaps DeGeneres shouldn’t be on the show. But Cowell wasn’t taking the bait.
He said he was talking about who should replace him — not Paula Abdul — and that DeGeneres actually does have musical chops. "She’s been very responsible for the people she has on her show, and she’s been an artist," he said.
Cowell was more open to the notion of another out-there candidate for his job: Perez Hilton.
"Perez would be funny," he said. "He’s got good taste in music. That could work."
Knowing how the rumor mill works, Cowell predicted we’d continue to hear all sorts of outrageous names floated for his gig — including megastars such as Madonna. Don’t believe it, he warned.
"It will never happen," he said of a superstar filling his seat. "You’ve got to give a massive time commitment. And you’ve got to find people who have that time."
On other topics:
– Cowell predicted it would be a good season for the female singers on "Idol" this year. "We’ve had a few years now of guys winning the show. There’s definitely a better chance of a girl winning the show this year," he said.
He said he’d "love to find a Taylor Swift, somebody who is relevant rather than a contest winner."
– He predicted ratings for "Idol" next year should be fine, despite his absence. "It’s going to help next season because there’s going to be an interest in who replaces me," he said.
– Cowell had "no idea" why Chris Golightly was replaced in the "Idol" top 24 at the last minute. "I’m guessing it’s some sort of technical reason," he said.
– He said he misses working with Abdul. "Even though we used to argue a lot, she’s someone I got close to," he said. "She always made me laugh. It was like not having my friend on the show."