Simon Fuller’s belief that a dance show could work on modern American primetime television, before Fox or even “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator Nigel Lythgoe bit, is just one example of the entertainment mogul’s keen instincts throughout an already storied career.
Fuller, who started out as a music talent scout in his native England while still in his teens, may be soft-spoken, but he’s had a resounding impact on pop culture worldwide. Just consider these highlights from his resume:
- Creator of the U.K.’s “Pop Idol,” which he spun off in the States as “American Idol” and in multiple versions around the globe.
- The Svengali behind the ’90s phenomenon known as the Spice Girls.
- Founder, in the mid-’80s, of the company 19 Entertainment, which represents some of the most recognizable names in music, TV, fashion and sports, including soccer star David Beckham, for whom Fuller masterminded a high-profile move to the L.A. Galaxy in 2007.
No wonder Time magazine named Fuller one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“He’s very hard-working and knows you rarely get an easy win in life,” Beckham said in Time. “He enjoys dealing with unexpected challenges. It’s no surprise he’s as successful as he is because, despite being a nice guy and a modest character, he’s also a real fighter for what he believes in.”
Throughout it all, Fuller’s philosophy has remained steadfast: Find fresh new talent and then expose it to the broadest possible audience, often through TV.
“Television is a fantastic forum for bringing mass audiences together,” Fuller says. “If you’re gonna have your finger on the pulse of popular culture, you’ve gotta be on TV. It’s an absolutely essential part of what I do.”
Even with as much as he’s accomplished, Fuller insists he has no plans to slow down. “There’s so much more I want to do,” he says. At the top of the list: Helping to expand Elvis Presley Enterprises through a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil on an Elvis-themed show. A movie about the King is also in the works.
Beyond that, says Fuller, “the Internet is still baffling (in terms of) generating income, but at some point in the near future it will be the foundation for even more amazing things to happen. There will be that tipping-point moment where it all makes sense, and I’d love to be at the forefront of that.
“The sky’s the limit if you have the ideas and the resources. And that,” Fuller says, “is where my head’s at.”