Dear Simon: So Long, And Thanks For All The Fits

So, you’re really doing it? You, the great Simon Cowell, are stepping down from the top spot on the “American Idol” panel. Sure, you announced your grand plans before the latest and frankly weakest season of the show even began, but somehow it just didn’t seem real until right now.

To say “Idol” won’t be the same without you is an understatement. Heck, it hasn’t been the same since Paul Abdul left. And for all her endearing, wacky and at times alarmingly unpredictable ways, she never seemed half as vital to the televised talent contest as you.

Whether you were flinging barbs, offering genuine criticism or just cycling through your many faces of exasperation (the eye roll-sigh combo, complete with chin-in-hands action was a personal favorite of mine), you not only entertained the masses with your actions, you inspired greatness from the hopefuls who bared their singing souls to you.

To be clear, it wasn’t necessarily a vocal greatness you inspired. Often the best “Idol” moments came long before the talented few took over. You know, all those teary tantrums, the looks of absolute shock and the angry fits your critical observations earned from the early auditions all the way to the Hollywood rounds.

Sometimes you received little more than stunned silence, as was the case when you told one young hopeful, “There are only so many words I can drag out of my vocabulary to say how awful that was.” But every now and then, you hardly had to use any words to set someone off into a full-on “You, sir, suck” rant.

Of course the reactions weren’t always the best part. No one overshadowed you when you took the long, lackadaisical approach to the spot-on gut punch, as you did with an oddly apt review of Ashley Thomas’ cringe-worthy “Crazy” performance in season three.

“What that reminded me of when I was sitting here was, like, instead of being on the stage of 'American Idol,' you're at a local rodeo. You've just been crowned the prom queen, and it was like the song before you lasso a bull,” you said just before adding, “I'm being serious.”

It left Ashley confused and half the audience booing, but rest assured, some of us, after repeating it in our heads once or twice just to get the mental picture, completely agreed.

But Simon, to be honest with you, even you had your flaws. Not when it came to dashing dream — you excelled at that. No, you simply boasted a few flubs, foibles and, well, a terrible fashion sense.

It may be petty, but with your knack for dissecting every extra pound, fashion failure and visual flaw a wannabe pop star could possibly present, surely you understand the need to know just where you’ve gone wrong. Besides, you’re starting a new job next year, and you’ll want to look your best.

X-Factor’ makeover, please
So what should Simon Cowell, soon to be of American “X-Factor” fame, change? You’ve already pared down that collection of vacuum-tight T-shirts you were once so very fond of. (Thank you, by the way.) Now you’re free to focus on your ongoing love of plunging necklines. FYI, the glory days of televised chest hair are long gone.

Speaking of hair, that partially parted, not-so-flat flattop of yours? No. Just no.

With that unpleasantness behind us, how about focusing on your workplace woes. While it’s hard to have anything but praise for the patter you once shared with Paula, sadly, that didn’t extend to everyone. Granted, you bantered with Randy “Dawg” Jackson as well as anyone could, given his increasingly incomprehensible reviews, and as for Ellen DeGeneres, the two of you never really had enough time to bond.

Which just leaves Kara DioGuardi and Ryan Seacrest, otherwise known as your problem areas. You may be saying goodbye to them now, but you’re bound to face similar personality predicaments on your new show, so it’s never too late to look at where things went wrong.

In fairness, when Kara first joined the pack, no one knew what to do with her. Your slightly stunned reaction to her sing-off with “Bikini Girl” was appropriate, as were your subsequent hot and cold reactions to her freshman stint. But something happened during her second and your last season. She morphed into Paula 2.0 and you seemed ... smitten? Ugh.

Regarding the Ryan situation, one can only guess what happened in your mutual off hours that turned your years of juvenile barbs and snappy retorts into, well, whatever the heck went on between the two of you this season. From the onscreen side of things, it didn’t look like you were the one to blame. The MC routinely attempted to make mincemeat out of you for no apparent reason. So, whatever you did or didn’t do behind the scenes, don’t do it next time around.

Because Simon, you see, we want you to succeed with “X-Factor.” As “American Idol” slips into old-guard status — and let’s face it, it’s not likely to snap back in your absence — your fans and the fans of the type of panel-based talent competitions you helped popularize look forward to you bringing your A game to “X-Factor” and making it the next “Idol.” Well, the next “Idol” from way back when “Idol” was really something to brag about.

Don’t let us down.

Sincerely, your pal (in that you-don't-really-know-me kind of way),
Ree Hines

Ree Hines remains a Simon fan despite the needlessly cruel and ever-so-accurate feedback his digital alter ego gives her in the “Karaoke Revolution.” Follow her on Twitter and share your own “Dear Simon” sentiments at

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