On Thursday (Feb. 18, 2010) Simon Cowell held a wide-ranging conference call re. his future and several facets of American Idol. Following is Part I of a three-part series of that conference call:

Q: When you look at the musical landscape of contemporary music at this point, does it seem important to you that a woman win this year?

Cowell: “It depends what she’s like. I kind of know where you’re going. We’ve had a few years now of guys winning the show and I would say there is definitely a better chance of a girl winning the show this year, certainly than last year.”

Q: What would be the right type of woman to win, do you think?

Cowell: “When you talk about the landscape, I think you’re absolutely right; you want somebody who represents what is going on at the moment. I’d love to find a Taylor Swift, somebody who’s relevant rather than just a contest winner.”

Q: So there were a few interesting decisions in last night’s (Wednesday) episode here it seemed like you might not have agreed. How often are you overruled by the other judges?

Cowell: “Well, this was a difficult one because it all happened so quickly. I think in hindsight it would have been much easier, but it couldn’t happen this way, that we could have had maybe five or six days to think about it and really review the performances. But we had limited time and decisions were made relatively quickly on the day. Then when you watch it back you think, ‘You know what? I could have made different decisions here.’”

Q: Is that maybe why you’re moving to your own show?

Cowell: “No, it’s not. Look, this happens on the shows I do in other countries. There’s always a moment when you look at something and think, ‘I’ve made a decision,’ but you just have to live with that. Luckily, they can always re-audition the following year.”

Q: Your replacement. We’ve also heard of Steve Lillywhite, Howard Stern and Perez Hilton are people in the running, or think they’re in the running, as your replacement. Who of those people would be your pick? What do you think someone who would replace you would need to have?

Cowell: “Who was the first guy you said – Steve Lillywhite?”

Answer: Yes.

Cowell: “The record producer?”

Answer: Yes. He made a video this morning.

Cowell: “OK. Is he handsome?”

Answer: He’s fairly attractive.

Cowell: “Well, that’s not good enough, is it? You have to be good looking. Secondly, I think you just have to know what you’re talking about. I think more and more now I’m starting to realize with these shows that we have to put people on the shows who actually know what they’re talking about rather than guessing. They really have to have experience so you don’t just criticize, but you can actually offer constructive advice as well.
And Howard, I know Howard’s name has been in there for a while, but I’m fairly certain that there hasn’t been an approach at any time for Howard to do the show.”

Q: What about Perez?

Cowell: “Perez … Perez would be funny. You know, he has a good taste in music, he’s a personality. I mean, that could work.”

Q: Could you address the stories about you and Ellen not getting along? Can you also tell us what you miss most about Paula?

Cowell: “I wouldn’t say that we didn’t get on well. I don’t know Ellen that well. It was a difficult position for her because she started work on the Hollywood Week, which is quite a difficult show to do. There was one story I read that I turned up an hour late or something and that she wanted to film. I mean, the truth was I think I turned up 15 or 20 minutes late because I did a press conference earlier in the day and they did start filming, but that wasn’t a particular problem. But no, there was no fallout. I was trying to guide her through the week and that was about it, really.”

Q: What do you miss most about Paula?

Cowell: “Well, Paula’s my friend. I mean, amazingly, even though we used to argue a lot, she was somebody I just got very close to over the years. We’d hang out together after the show. She always made me laugh; I always thought she was funny. It was just like not having your friend on the show anymore. I do miss her.”

Q: We’re feeling pretty proud around here (Dallas area). We have four of the top 12 guys from Dallas/Fort Worth.

Cowell: “Yes.”

Q: I’m wondering if you can kind of size up their chances – Casey, Todrick, Tim Urban and Alex Lambert. Do you think any of them might be frontrunners?

Cowell: “Yes. I think that guys are relatively equal. Tim was the last audition, wasn’t he?”

Answer: Yes.

Cowell: “I’m not sure any of them are going to win, so I’d put them all in about an equal position at the moment. Four in and you’ve got a good shot. It’s not a bad place to be.”