Simon Cowell feels the love on "American Idol" send-off

Thu May 27, 2010 12:27am EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Paula Abdul sat on his lap, and his best insults were turned into a song as a softer Simon Cowell took center stage on Wednesday in his last appearance as a judge on "American Idol".

The British music executive may have become a household name in the United States by trashing wannabe singers, but his send-off on Wednesday was a love fest.

The season finale was scattered with video clips of memorable Cowell faces, humorous tributes from fellow judges and a song that strung his most famous one-liners together.

Ex-judge Abdul teased Cowell about his haircut and recalled a love-hate relationship on screen that she said made them "America's most dysfunctional family" before she quit the show last year.

"My darling Simon, I've worked with a lot of people over the years, hot cheerleaders, big movie stars, world famous recording artists, even a cartoon cat. But if I'm being truly honest, none of them holds a candle to you, my friend," Abdul said in a surprise live appearance.

She then perched on his lap on the judges' podium as seven former "Idol" champions and more than 15 past contestants serenaded him.

Cowell, dragged on stage shortly before the actual 2010 "American Idol" was announced, admitted to feeling emotional.

"When everyone asks who's going to replace me, who's going to be the next judge, the truth is, you guys are the judge of this show," Cowell said, indicating the viewers and voters.   Continued...

<p>Simon Cowell is interviewed following the Variety Children's Charity 2010 Hollywood World Conference in Los Angeles May 23, 2010. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>