HOLLYWOOD — Record company executive-turned-television producer Simon Cowell received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Aug. 22, capping a day that also saw his contract extended as a producer and judge on “America’s Got Talent.”
“It is so surreal, I cannot tell you,” Cowell told the crowd gathered for the Walk of Fame ceremony in front of the Hollywood & Highland complex on Hollywood Boulevard.
He thanked everyone who helped launch his career in the record and television industries, including “all the agents and the producers and, of course, the artists. Without artists, we have no shows, we have no label.”
He also thanked the fans, and joking gave a shout-out to Dunkin Donuts, one of the sponsors of “America’s Got Talent” and “Britain’s Got Talent.”
“They’re very good doughnuts, by the way,” he said. “Low calorie, good for you.
“It’s been a blast, the last 18 years,” he told the crowd. “Like I said, if anyone says fame is a bad thing, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s the best thing in the world. Thank you all of you for turning out and making this happen. It means an awful lot to me.”
Singer Kelly Clarkson, the winner of the inaugural season of “American Idol,” was among those on hand for the ceremony, along with Cowell’s longtime friend and collaborator, Sony Music Entertainment CEO Rob Stringer.
Cowell is a judge and executive producer of “America’s Got Talent,” which has been the most-watched entertainment program every week an original episode has aired this summer and last summer.
NBC rewarded that success by announcing that it had renewed Cowell’s multi-year deal with the network to keep him as a judge on the show.
“Simon Cowell is an extraordinary showman whose success stories over the years on multiple continents speak for themselves,” said Paul Telegdy, president of NBC Entertainment’s Alternative and Reality Group.
Cowell created the “Got Talent” format, which set the Guinness world record in 2014 for the television format with the highest number of adaptations, then 58, now 70.
Cowell is also a judge on “Britain’s Got Talent.”
Cowell first became known to the American public in 2002 when he began an eight-year run as the acerbic judge on the Fox singing competition “American Idol.”
Born Oct. 7, 1959, in London, Cowell began his career in the music industry in the early 1980s in the mail room of EMI Music Publishing, where his father was an executive, going on to become an established A&R executive, eventually beginning a long relationship with BMG.
Cowell first connected music with television in 1995 when he persuaded Robson Green and Jerome Flynn, stars of hit British television drama “Soldier Soldier,” to record “Unchained Melody” and “White Cliffs of Dover” for a single. It became one of the United Kingdom’s biggest selling singles of the year, with 1.8 million copies sold, topping the charts for seven consecutive weeks.
With BMG’s support, Cowell then set up his own label, S Records. In 1998 it signed the unknown Irish pop vocal quintet Westlife, who would sell more than 50 million records and have 14 No. 1 singles in the U.K.
Cowell first appeared on television in 2001 as a judge on the British singing competition “Pop Idol,” which spawned the American version, “American Idol.”
Cowell created another singing competition, “The X Factor,” which premiered in the United Kingdom in 2004. It would launch the careers of Fifth Harmony and One Direction and have versions commissioned in 55 territories.
In 2004, Syco Entertainment was formed as part of Cowell’s new Sony Music partnership. It would become one of the world’s leading music, film and television production companies. Artists signed to Syco Music have included Camila Cabello, Louis Tomlinson and Little Mix.
Cowell is also the creator of Univision’s Spanish-language singing competition, “La Banda.”