All the Jennifer Hudson fans who hoped she’d rub her success in Simon Cowell’s face on the premiere of her talk show saw their wish come true — along with a genuine reconciliation. On September 12, 2022, the former “American Idol” judge was the first-ever guest on “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” marking the first time the two had talked since she was voted off the hit talent show 18 years ago, due in part to his unkind comments about her.
Jennifer Hudson Plays Clips of Simon Cowell’s Critiques
On season 3 of “American Idol,” which Fantasia Barrino won, Hudson took 7th place. But she went on to become one of the most successful alumni of the show. In June, she reached “EGOT” status with the rare honor of having won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony in her career.
Cowell, who helped launch “American Idol” in the U.S. in 2002 and is known for his blunt, sometimes cruel critiques of contestants, has long been blamed by fans for swaying America to vote against Hudson during her run on the show. When Hudson announced she wanted Cowell to be the first guest on her new talk show, many hoped she’d use their reunion as a chance to make him eat his words.
Before bringing the current “America’s Got Talent” judge out on stage, Hudson reminisced about her time on “Idol,” playing clips of many of the rude comments Cowell had made about her in 2004.
In one episode, when she performed in a silver jumpsuit he said, “You look like you’re dressed in something you’d wrap a turkey in.”
Another week, he said she was lucky they weren’t judging based on outfits. And in another, he told the powerhouse singer, “You are gonna have to learn to control your voice because it is a bit all over the place.”
The harshest — and most memorable — critique for Hudson and her fans was when Cowell said, “I think you’re out of your depth because I think there are better singers and performers in the 11 people left.”
When fellow judge Randy Jackson kept saying “wrong, wrong, wrong,” Cowell added, “She can sing. The problem is there are people who are better than her, and I don’t think you’re capable of doing anything better to have any chance of winning this competition.”
After playing the clips and just before inviting Cowell onto the set, a prerecorded segment showed Hudson reflecting on her time at “Idol.”
“I remember my goal was for Simon to say ‘you’re the best singer I’ve heard,'” she said. “But he had a whole lot of other things to say. To this day, people still come up and they’re still upset with Simon!”
Before introducing Cowell, Hudson — who turned 41 on the day of her premiere — excitedly said, “It’s kind of like going back to the high school teacher and going, ‘look at me now!'”
Cowell Was Embarrassed By Clips of Past Comments
As Cowell walked on stage and embraced Hudson, he told her, “I’m very emotional right now. I feel terrible. I feel so bad.”
After handing her a giant bouquet of flowers and an autographed photo as a joke, he kept his distance on the couch until she implored him to move closer to her.
“I thought you were gonna slap me after those tapes,” he told her, and later begged her not to play any more excerpts from the past, saying, “You’re torturing me with those clips.”
Hudson said that looking back, she appreciates Cowell’s candor during her “Idol” journey because it prepared her for the cutthroat entertainment industry. She expressed gratitude to him for his honesty and asked him if he had advice for her going forward.
“The best advice is don’t listen to a word I say,” he said. “Honestly, you are the epitome of the American dream. You shouldn’t have been voted out. A lot of people would have walked away from that moment and given up.”
Hudson proved his point by sharing that she had told him, right after being voted off, that she would be back in the spotlight one day.
“By the time I was eliminated, I felt like I got an opportunity to display who I was as an artist. So I was ok with being eliminated,” she said. “And then when I was I was like, ‘You know what, you’re walking away with your talent, you’re walking away with your gift. This competition may be over, but your passion isn’t, your love and your drive isn’t.’ So often people give up and think that’s the end of the road.”
“The Jennifer Hudson Show” airs primarily on Fox stations across the U.S.