Mar. 13, 2007 | 02:15 PM EDT

Simon Is Mr. Nice Guy, After All

Photo by: FOX
Simon Is Mr. Nice Guy, After All | Simon Cowell
Not so long ago, Paula used the word "heart" in talking about Simon – as in, he has one. And it seems like Abdul was on to something: Last week, American Idol announced it was launching its first charity extravaganza, to raise money for the poor of Africa and the U.S., and who was one of the first onboard? Simon Cowell.

In an interview with the New York Times, Cowell talked about the recent trip he and Idol host Ryan Seacrest took to Kenya, calling it "one of those things which will sort of change your life." The trip will be broadcast during a two-night fund-raising special (airing April 24 and 25) called Idol Gives Back, which Cowell hopes will "raise awareness – I don't want to preach on this."

One gospel Cowell will preach is why he's remained on board the show after so many seasons. "When I did the deal for Idol, I said this will launch the biggest recording artists in the world – and it has," Cowell said of AI's success in developing artists for his record label. So who are his picks as season 6's frontrunners? "I think the favorites are Melinda (Doolittle) and Lakisha (Jones)," he said. "But I think this guy Blake Lewis could be a dark horse."

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