HOLLYWOOD — Simon Cowell has managed to find a Brit as feisty and brutally honest as he is to be a judge on his new series.
Sharon Osbourne will join the "American Idol" judge when "The X Factor" debuts in Britain in September (see "Simon Cowell Will Face Judges' Jabs On New Reality Show"). "He's in for it," Osbourne said backstage at last week's "American Idol" finale, flashing a mischievous grin. "They say that karma comes back to you in life, and I think this is his karma coming back to him by having to work with me."
"She may be right," Cowell deadpanned later. "There are certain decisions you make in life and weeks afterwards you go, 'Maybe I shouldn't have done that.' And this may be one of those occasions."
On both "The Osbournes" and "The Sharon Osbourne Show," Sharon is usually portrayed as a sweet mother with a potty mouth, but her reputation in the music industry is that of a shrewd businesswoman not afraid to tell off even the biggest of rock stars.
"She's like one of those sea creatures that live at the bottom of the ocean," Cowell said. "They're very quiet until you go near them and then they bite you from nowhere. And that's what Sharon reminds me of because you think she's so sweet and then she can be a complete monster."
Not that Cowell is an angel.
"Yeah, but I'm more out there with it," he said. "She makes me nervous. I wouldn't like to fall out with Sharon."
Sharon, Simon and another as-yet-unnamed judge will guide a group of singers on "The X-Factor" as well as judge them. Yet Sharon is confident that Cowell will keep his "Idol" reputation as the meanest judge.
"I wanna be truthful and the truth hurts, but I think it's all in the delivery," she said. "And the thing is, I don't have any talent. I can't sing, I can't dance, I can't do anything like that. So the people that have the balls to get out there, I give them a lot of respect. It takes a lot to do that."
Simon (who managed boy bands Westlife and 5ive before getting into TV) and Sharon (who manages her husband and the annual Ozzfest), are likely to have different tastes on "The X-Factor," although both were in the same boat at the "Idol" finale.
"Definitely Fantasia," Sharon said when asked who her favorite was. "She's basically what got me hooked into the show this season, 'cause I thought there was such great talent there."
Cowell, of course, has been rooting for Fantasia from the beginning. "That performance of 'Summertime' was spectacular, absolutely spectacular," he said. "You can't help but like her. She's always crying, then she's happy, then crying again."
Simon hopes to bring "The X-Factor," which will have no age limit, to America, but — contrary to rumors — he's not quitting "Idol."
"I'll be back for two more seasons," he said. "The risk is you don't want to become a parody of yourself, but we remind ourselves the first day that we are here to find somebody talented, not live up to our images on TV."