Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Sweet Revenge – The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell: Tom Bower, December 20, 2012—January 2, 2013
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
Sweet Revenge focuses largely on the professional life of Simon Cowell, most likely because his work takes up so much of his life.
Following a scene-setting “day in the life of” segment, Bower chronologically charts the rise and rise (and plateau?) of Cowell’s varied career from his early days in the industry to his TV successes.
It is particularly interesting to read about the thought processes and methodology of Cowell as he finesses his TV empire. We know who he hired, who he fired and what we saw as a finished product, but Bower peels away the top layer to show us why.
It’s interesting to read what was “real” and what was portrayed as real on- and off-screen. Bower is unflinchingly honest about what actually happened, what was staged, and what spin (/fibs) were fed to the press. Nobody can claim ignorance about the manipulation (or “helpful direction”) of ITV’s flagship entertainment shows, but it’s amazing to read such a candid account.
The political wrangling between Cowell, TV executives, record labels and production companies provides a fascinating insight into a side of the industry we see very little of. The constant redistribution of power (actual and perceived) is almost soap operatic as each stakeholder vies for the upper hand.
A predominant theme of the book is Cowell’s long-running feud with Simon Fuller. Its origins are described in detail, as well as the effect it had on their working lives. Cowell recognises his nemesis’ strengths and the relationship between the Simons is complexly gripping.
At times, the writing becomes repetitive with too much time spent on irrelevancies and glossing over more interesting stories.
The book shows us Cowell’s lifestyle, his thought process, his flaws and his fears. Those complaining of a lack of salacious gossip perhaps misunderstand the “intimate” life Bower shows us. The enigmatic success story that is Simon Cowell is opened up and revealed in fascinating detail.