Cowell Quells Critics

Bet Rosie O'Donnell feels pretty foolish now that Simon Cowell has let that nice, if slightly odd, older guy sing "You Belong to Me" on "American Idol" just because the guy promised his cancer-stricken lady love he'd audition when the judges came to Los Angeles.

In a recent "The View" sermon, you'll recall, O'Donnell excoriated Simon for his treatment of delusional "Idol" wannabe auditioners, calling his behavior cruel. The press jumped on the story and feasted for days.

Back to 60-something Sherman Pore, who told Simon and his colleagues Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson that while his girlfriend was in the cancer ward at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, he kept her spirits up by collecting signatures on a petition requesting he be allowed to audition. Pore, who is well over the show's 28-year age limit for contestants, he brought the petition signed by hundreds, to show the judges.

Pore's girlfriend -- you paying attention, Rosie? -- died two days before he got to sing on the show.

"I believe it helped her keep a positive attitude and it smoothed her passing and made it a little softer," Pore said, choking up.

Simon was clearly touched, as was Randy.

Paula, who was unnervingly lucid on both days of the Hollywood auditions, started to sniffle and wiped away tears. And while guest judge Olivia Newton-John couldn't actually tear up -- her ducts having been sealed when she got nipped, tucked and 'toxed into complete facial immobility -- she too seemed moved by the man's story and his lovely performance of "You Belong to Me":

See the pyramids along the Nile,
Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle,
Just remember darling, all the while,
You belong to me.

"You're a class act, Sherman," Simon said after the performance. "Let me shake your hand. Very nice to meet you."

As far as I'm concerned Simon can now be just as cruel and vicious as he likes to all the geeks and poseurs this competition attracts.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 1, 2007; 2:18 AM ET "American Idol"
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You just watch. It'll get branded a cynical publicity grab by the meanest man in showbusiness. People these days just can't let a nice moment stand.

Posted by: 23112 | February 1, 2007 10:10 AM

It was a very nice thing to do, letting Pore sing. I think it was an added bonus that he actually COULD sing.

Posted by: Terry in Maryland | February 1, 2007 11:20 AM

I thought it was nice of them to give the man a chance to sing, and he didn't do nearly as bad as some. BUT, this year there seems a larger effort to be even more harsh towards some of the less then ideal Idol candidates. And in that aspect, if I were a pretty good singer who tried out and got a rejection in the various cities, and then see these people who obviously are being inserted because of their "terribleness" as a rating booster, I'd be pretty upset. Of course it is TV and they have the right to do what they want, but it is pretty saddening to see the hurt in their faces, and the pleasure that the judges get out of their lack of skills.

Posted by: Joe | February 1, 2007 11:23 AM

One more thing....the first day in L.A. I believe it was, Paula seemed kind of loopy and then was gone for the latter part of the show. It was reminiscent of the TV interviews where she was also kind of loopy. Anyone know what happened...?

Posted by: Joe | February 1, 2007 11:27 AM

Aw. That is sweet--good for him (and them).

Posted by: NYC | February 1, 2007 12:17 PM

He "wasn't as bad as some"? Mr. Pore was, in fact, good. Notice how there were no affectations in his singing? No tortuous melisma, no distended words, no showboating on glory notes. Just a sincere, direct, well sung account of a song that meant something to him. And he made you feel that it meant something.

A lot of the people they've passed on to Hollywood could learn something from this gent. He's classy in more ways than one.

Posted by: SDF24 | February 1, 2007 1:51 PM

A bit off topic but did you guys see Randy actually run after Simon last night? I was shocked that he could actually run but it wasn't very graceful at all. He was flapping those arms like if they were fins.

Posted by: Reston | February 1, 2007 2:04 PM

love your blog lisa. i've been reading it since i was in the d.c. area on sabbatical 2 years ago. now i look forward to reading online what you have to say after every show.
you're fab!

Posted by: northern california layla | February 1, 2007 3:27 PM

Lisa, you're kidding, right? So the old guy (younger than me, in case you think I'm being age-ist) could sing - so what. He looked foolish, it was a maudlin moment, and totally not what was supposed to be going on (like, theoretically, auditions). And THEN we have to (okay, nobody put a gun to my head) revisit all the awful, and maudlin, people on, urk, Larry King!

Posted by: Gina | February 3, 2007 7:53 PM

This was, in fact, one of the only sweet and genuine moments on the show this season. Personally, I'm getting burned out on the rudeness of ALL parties, and I'm not finding Paula's inability to form one intelligible sentence throughout the ENTIRE season amusing. She used to at least be alert and offer constructive criticism in previous seasons. They all look burnt out, tired, and usually hung over. This season has, for me, taken a serious downturn!

Posted by: kat | February 7, 2007 9:47 AM

I am not familiar with this his song but I LOVE IT!!! I also wept! Is this an original song that Sherman wrote or is this a song I can download?

Posted by: Nicole | February 7, 2007 10:11 AM

Not sure what Rosie has to do with the story, guess you are just trying to stir the pot. Many people think that this year they are over the top on their comments. Giving one person a chance really doesn't make a difference to me--Simon, Randy and Paula find making fun of people's appearance okay. Too bad you do to.

Posted by: jenn | February 7, 2007 10:32 AM

Olivia might have had a bit of facial work, but damn, cut her some slack. She's a cancer survivor. She deserves some pampering.

Posted by: Henry | February 7, 2007 10:41 AM

Guy's wife of twenty years, not girlfriend. It was touching, and I'm glad that (so far) it hasn't been used as a promo for the show.

Posted by: sjm | February 7, 2007 2:30 PM

Nicole, you still around? The song was written by Chilton Price in 1952. Full lyrics can be found here: The song has been covered by about 67 artists (Jason Wade, for the movie Shrek, being just one of them).

Posted by: omni | February 7, 2007 2:46 PM

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