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Stars and other friends came out for Simon Cowell as he was honored Monday night at the Music Industry Trusts Award gala in London, with the likes of One Direction celebrating the music mogul.
Labrinth, Leona Lewis and Olly Murs closed out the night at the Grosvenor House hotel in central London with musical performances. Earlier in the night, Il Divo also performed.
A tribute video to Cowell that was shown at the 24th edition of the award event included Hollywood and music star power alike. Among the big names congratulating Cowell in the video were Harvey Weinstein, who said: “You are a unique inspiration to everybody in the entertainment industry”; Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, who lauded Cowell for being in tune with popular taste; Sony Music boss Doug Morris; Kevin Spacey, who pretended to be confused about which honor Cowell was getting and then briefly channeled his House of Cards character Frank Underwood; Oprah Winfrey, who said, Cowell has “turned honesty into an art form”; Jay Leno; James Corden; One Direction; British Prime Minister David Cameron, who lauded Cowell for helping boost the British creative industries; and music producer Pete Waterman.
One Direction then handed Cowell the award to a standing ovation. Cowell accepted the honor, quipping that he had been waiting all his life to get the honor, but was now “completely hammered.”
Cowell also joked that he loved doing his job, which allows him to get up at 1 or 2 p.m., and he quipped that he has made the inventor of Botox a lot of money. Cowell also called having a baby, son Eric, “the best thing” that has happened in his life, thanking partner Lauren Silverman.
Earlier in the night, Cowell had arrived for the red-carpet part of the event with Silverman. Cowell avoided answering a reporter’s question about when he and Silverman may get married.
Asked by reporters if The X Factor U.K. would see changes next year, he said: “Of course, that’s my job.” With ratings for the ITV show down this season, he said, “It’s just focusing on what we need to do — make the contestants better. I think some of them could look a bit better.” But he said, “most importantly,” he had seen three to five talents who could not only win the show, but also sell records.
Meanwhile, X Factor U.K. co-host Murs told reporters on the red carpet that “telling people that they are not getting through” is the hardest challenge for him. He said when Cowell asked him if he would be a co-host, Murs said: “As soon as Simon asks me to do anything, I kind of do.” He said he only realized later “how difficult it actually is” to host a show. “There is so much going on.”
”Simon took a chance on me,” he said about Cowell’s support for him during the 2009 season of The X Factor U.K. and his decision to sign him to his Syco label later. “He took that risk on me. And probably during the X Factor I was terrible really. In my first audition, I was amazing, but then after that, I was terrible — all through every other round…. I’ve always been indebted to Simon.”
Other attendees at the event included X Factor U.K. co-host Caroline Flack, judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and former X Factor U.K. judge Louis Walsh.
Past recipients of the award include Elton John, Peter Gabriel, Gary Barlow and Annie Lennox.
Among the items auctioned off to raise funds Monday were the lyrics for Take That’s “Back for Good,” handwritten and signed by Barlow, which fetched $26,200 (£17,000); the right for four people to serve as X Factor U.K. judges during a full dress rehearsal, for which Walsh agreed to pay $38,540 (£25,000) to many cheers; dinner for eight people with Tom Jones for $46,250 (£30,000); and a signed music sheet of One Direction’s “Story of My Life,” which went to Cowell for $77,080 (£40,000).