Simon Says: Five Hints About 'Idol' '09

In a conference call with reporters this morning (Dec. 17), surly-as-ever "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell revealed some highlights for the forthcoming eighth season of the show, which begins Jan. 13 on Fox. And don't worry Paula -- he also said he'll continue to pester you as much as possible.

1. More diverse contestants: "We've got an interesting bunch. We got stuck last year with a battle of the blondes -- they all looked that same and we couldn't differentiate one versus the other. We tried to be as broad and as open-minded as possible so we don't wind up with 12 people from the Stepford Wives."

2. Paula and Kara gang up on him: "What guy would like that, come on? You've got two girls ganging up on you. One is hard enough -- two is terrible. At least I've got Randy by my side."

3. One of the guys: "We filmed Hollywood Week about a month ago. My memory of that is that the guys, overall, were stronger. Five or six of them stood out more than the girls."

4. Clothing-optional: "One [contestant] came in in a bikini. Of course she got a yes from us, the guys, and a no from the girls. Luckily, we got our way. I love [being the tiebreaker]. They hate it. There's been a few arguments along the way, particularly from the girls when they don't get their way."

5. Star power: "We try every year to get Paul McCartney on, and for whatever reason, he won't come on. Lionel Richie and Quentin Tarantino, they were brilliant fun, and we'd like those type of people to come back. We just recently had Beyonce on the British version of the show, and she was absolutely incredible, and Britney was great fun. Britney would literally be first on the list [to appear on 'Idol.'] I would love to see her mentor the contestants. There was more excitement and interest in her [on 'X Factor'] than I'd seen in many, many years. She would be very, very welcome."

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