WHAT is it about Americans that they lap up the TV stars that make most sane Brits want to kick the TV in?

First Anne Robinson is welcomed in to the States with open arms, and now Simon Cowell is starring, along with Paula Abdul, in the US version of Pop Idol.

America definitely has a masochistic streak. But it seems it's the hopefuls who will have the last laugh -- he's already been called an "ass" by one contender and has had to hire bodyguards to ward off trouble (see our music page).

I shouldn't worry, Simon. If they try to shoot you in the heart, the bullet is likely to bounce off your belt buckle.