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Image: Simon Cowell
Jason Decrow  /  AP file
“I think Simon has actually got a wee bit nicer over the past couple of years,” says Carrie Underwood.
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 2/16/2009 7:37:16 PM ET 2009-02-17T00:37:16

Despite his reputation as “American Idol’s” tell-it-like-it-is dream dasher, Simon Cowell is popular with the show’s past contestants. A new report in The Star reveals Cowell’s tough talk earned him the respect of country queen Carrie Underwood and last year’s winner David Cook.

“I think Simon has actually got a wee bit nicer over the past couple of years,” Underwood said. “I think it's really good that somebody will give you a dose of reality even if it might be said in a harsh manner. I can think of nicer ways to say things than he tells (contestants), but it's nice that he's got a very strong opinion and he does voice it.”

As for Cook, he considers Cowell the best judge on the talent panel, but he didn’t always feel that way.

“The first couple of weeks I was on the show, Simon and I did not see eye to eye,” Cook recalled. "As soon as I took a step back and realized that everything he said was constructive, as mean as it might be, we got along fine. So if anybody asks me who my favorite judge is, I'm always going to say Simon.”

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‘Runway’ winner’s take on Rihanna
While many celebrities have spoken out to support Rihanna following the assault allegations against Chris Brown, “Project Runway’s” season-four winner Christian Siriano had a decidedly less sympathetic take on the news.

“Rihanna and Chris Brown — they’re crazy!” Siriano told TMZ. “They have too much money. They’re bored. They had to do something.”

After that glib response, the designer was asked what he thought should happen to Brown. He then hinted that Brown wasn’t the one to blame.

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings

“I don’t know, ’cause you know what? I’ve met Rihanna, and she’s kind of a diva,” Siriano explained. “There has to be something that she did. Don’t you think? To provoke it.”

When a seemingly surprised TMZ cameraman offered the opinion that there was never a good reason to hit a woman, Siriano had a minor change of heart.

“You’re right,” he said. “You can’t hit a woman. So, you know, I feel bad for him, but he needs to get in trouble. It’s time for him. He can’t be a teeny-bopper forever.”

50 Cents worth on Britney’s breakdown
While pop star Britney Spears battled through her personal breakdown, 50 Cent looked on and found the inspiration for his album, “Before I Self Destruct.” But it turns out Spears was more than just a muse for the rapper. In an interview with OK! magazine, 50 Cent revealed how Spears’ downward spiral doubled as uplifting entertainment.

“She was the greatest show on earth last year,” he told the magazine. “She was going through her issues in public ... It was great to watch her spin out of control because it makes the average person feel better.”

Tabloid Tidbits is compiled by Ree Hines.

© 2013 msnbc.com.  Reprints

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