Simon Cowell has insisted there’s no bad blood with Nick Cannon following his recent departure from America’s Got Talent.
The reality TV judge played down claims of a feud following the dramatic exit of the long running host from the show after seven years, revealing Cannon sent him good luck champagne on the first day of shooting for the new season.
Simon, who joined the judging panel last year, recently told Entertainment Tonight: “I didn’t know much about [Cannon’s exit] — maybe I should have known more about it.
“I mean, look, the point is that he was the first to send me a bottle of Champagne on the first day … which interestingly, he didn’t send to the others.”
Cannon, who presented eight seasons of America’s Got Talent from 2009 to 2016, left the show following a very public falling out with executives at NBC, who he accused of trying to stifle his creativity.
In a Facebook post after his exit the 36-year-old entertainer claimed he was forced to resign after the network threatened to fire him following allegations he broke his contract by making disparaging remarks about NBC during a Showtime comedy special, Stand Up, Don’t Shoot.
During the one off-show, he ranted about how hosting AGT had changed his fanbase, claiming:“I honestly believe, once I started doing ‘America’s Got Talent,’ they took my real n****r card. They did! Because then, like, these type of people started showing up to my shows.”
He also joked that NBC stood for “N****r Better Come on”.
After the show aired it was rumoured the comments could be seen as a breach of contract by Cannon, for casting his bosses in a negative light. Though NBC insisted they weren’t sacking Cannon, the star quit anyway.
Detailing the reasons he decided to walk away, Cannon wrote in a lengthy post on Facebook in February: “I will not be silenced, controlled, or treated like a piece of property. Not to get too detailed but this isn’t the first time executives have attempted to ‘put me in my place’ for so called unruly actions.
“I will not stand for it. My moral principles will easily walk away from the millions of dollars they hang over my head.” (sic)
The multi-talented Cannon first came to prominence in 1996 as part of the rap group Da G4 Dope Bomb Squad. The group opened for bigger acts at the time such as Will Smith, LFO and Montell Jordan and helped Cannon sign with Jive Records in 2001.
His self-titled debut album was released in 2003 and while he started out in music it didn’t take long for Cannon to show off his talent for presenting. In 2005 he produced and hosted Wild’N Out for MTV and continued to work closely with the network.
Tyra Banks has since replaced Cannon as the fourth host of the reality TV show, with Howie Mandell, Mel B and Heidi Klum returning as judges alongside Cowell.
While head honcho Simon is usually in the mix when it comes to the drama on his many reality TV shows, the British star insisted he had no idea Cannon would not be returning for the new season until a few weeks before they began filming.
Cowell explained: “I didn’t know that Nick wasn’t going to be on the show until about two or three weeks before we started filming, and no one told me about this stuff.”
He continued: “Anyway, it happened. I spoke to him, I thought he was going to come back but he wasn’t — then he was, wasn’t — and then in the end, we decided to start filming without him.”
Revealing how America’s Next Top Model star Tyra became involved, Simon added: “After one day, we get a phone call — Tyra Banks wants to meet. I thought I was being [pranked] to be honest with you.
The former supermodel will host AGT alongside America’s Next Top Model, which she will return to after a one-season break during which Rita Ora stepped in as head judge.
Despite the drama surrounding Cannon’s exit, judge Howie Mandell of the Backstreet Boys insisted there’s been no problem with his replacement.
At the recent Hollywood launch of the 12th season he insisted she already felt like part of the AIG family: “You wouldn’t think that she was the new kid on the block, and the beauty is that she’s funny. She’s comfortable.”