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Cowell Relents, Cooperates With Unauthorized Book


A salacious biography of TV and music impresario Simon Cowell came out on both sides of the Atlantic this week. "Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell," was written by the British investigative journalist Tom Bower. Cowell is said to have been initially reluctant to cooperate with the book, which was launched at a lavish London reception this week. But as Vicki Barker reports from London, he still showed up for the party.

VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: Watermelon cocktails and high-concept canapes among the art installations at London's Serpentine Gallery. The crowd includes Sir Phillip Green, head of the Topshop clothing chain; and billionaire Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, the subject of Tom Bower's last book. Bower practices biography as vivisection. Party guest Lord Valentine Cecil is a friend, and a fan.

LORD VALENTINE CECIL: He's a no-holds-barred biographer, which he always tells his subject. And therefore, very few cooperate with him.

BARKER: Cowell did cooperate, after Ecclestone advised him to bow to the inevitable. If you let him into your world, he told Cowell, there's a better chance of a balanced picture.

TOM BOWER: My friends, shh-shh-shh...

BARKER: Tom Bower says he's lost count of how many times he's been sued. He's always won, he says.

BOWER: My friends, it's a very special evening tonight for me, because this is my 20th book - 20 victims, and this is the first time that anyone I've ever written about has wanted to celebrate.


BARKER: Among other things, "Sweet Revenge" details Cowell's break-up with his fiancee, his secret affair with British "X Factor" judge Dannii Minogue, and his secret lust for former "X Factor" USA judge Cheryl Cole - all of which was drip-fed in serializations here, for the entire week leading up to publication.

SIMON COWELL: Being invited here tonight was - when Tom called me - it was rather like a cat inviting a mouse to a dinner party.


BARKER: Since cash crops like Cowell's "American Idol" and "X Factor" programs are fertilized by well-timed leaks of salacious, outrageous and, very occasionally, actually true tidbits about contestants, surely this was just one more welcome exercise in self-publicity? Honestly not, he said.

COWELL: I've spent most of last week - I've got to be honest with you - under a pillow in my bedroom. The newspapers were, literally, banned.

BARKER: But eventually, he said, he did grow more philosophical.

COWELL: If somebody had said to me 10 years ago: There's going to be a book written about you; and it's going to be about you making loads of money, shagging loads of girls - I would've gone, great.


COWELL: That's why we're in the music business.

BARKER: Cowell said he'd even come to like Bower, comparing it to the Stockholm Syndrome, where hostages begin identifying with their captors. After, Cowell even signed copies of Bower's book for some of the guests. No hard feelings, he says.

COWELL: I've always taken the view - I'm not that comfortable talking about it, but at the same time, I have a relationship with the media, which is: I rely on them to publicize my shows. So I can't get too sulky when they criticize me.

BARKER: Besides, he says, the book does have a happy ending.

For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.