U.K.'s Conservatives get a "yes" from Simon Cowell
By Mimi Turner
LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - He's long been Britain's most influential pop mogul, reveling in the power to make or break careers. Now Simon Cowell has stepped into the political frame, giving opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron his ringing endorsement to be the next Prime Minister.
Cowell's comments -- in the Conservative-supporting Sun newspaper -- come as Britain's broadcasters move into top gear, outlining their high tech coverage of the election May 6 and through the night as the results come in on the least predictable British election in several decades.
In a front-page exclusive with the Sun -- the Rupert Murdoch-owned market-leading tabloid here -- Cowell waxed positive about Cameron, who faces Prime Minister Gordon Brown in his battle to woo the electorate when the ballot boxes open for business on Thursday morning.
"I have met David on two occasions. I liked him immediately ... I have always trusted my gut instinct -- and this was a guy who I thought would do the right things for this country," Cowell wrote. "I believe he is the prime minister Britain needs at this time. He has substance and the stomach to navigate us through difficult times."
Cowell didn't detail the specifics of Conservative fiscal policy that appealed to him, but he bemoaned the state of Britain's diminishing competitiveness, the red tape and regulation that he said threatened to engulf business start-ups and the collapse of the family and rising youth crime.
Cowell said the U.K.'s first televised leaders' debates were "terrific" but counseled against giving them too much weight.
"I don't believe a General Election is the 'X Factor,' he said, referring to the singing competition show he created. "Choosing how you vote should not be a snap verdict based on a few minutes of television. We are not talent show judges picking pretty-sounding contestants now."
Like the candidates, Britain's leading broadcasters are digging deep in their reserves of energy for one last marathon push to cover the election. The BBC, with its traditional heavyweight team led by David Dimbleby, Jeremy Paxman and Jeremy Vine, will present its election coverage from a specially constructed two-tier "coliseum-style" set accompanied by the now-traditional swingometer, which measures the changes in voting patterns.
ITV, basking in beating the BBC in the election-debate ratings, will launch the evening with Alastair Stewart and Mary Nightingale and will be reporting live from around the country and have a hub at County Hall, across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament.
Not to be outdone, Sky News will be sending more teams than ever before to cover the election from around the country. The satcaster, which garnered a record audience of 4.1 million for its electoral debate coverage, will also share some facilities and pictures with each of the other broadcasters.
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