Simon Cowell shaken by ‘crazed fan’ break-in

Simon Cowell at the launch of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ last week © Getty Images

A 29-year-old woman appeared in court yesterday after she was caught lurking in the London home of millionaire reality star Simon Cowell. Why do people get so dangerously obsessed with stars?

Reality star and media tycoon Simon Cowell was busy watching himself on TV on Saturday night. That evening, a new series of his show, Britain’s Got Talent, had arrived on the nation’s screens, with Cowell himself – in the role of celebrity judge – as the main attraction.

More than 12 million people tuned in to watch the famously severe record executive roll his eyes at his latest batch of talent-show hopefuls. But, as Cowell was about to discover, one fan had decided to get a little closer to the action.

Pleased with his Britain’s Got Talent performance, Cowell was just settling down to watch his appearance on the Jonathan Ross Show when he heard a loud banging sound coming from his upstairs bathroom, and rushed to investigate. He soon found the source of the disturbance: a 29-year-old woman called Leanne Zaloumis had, allegedly, smashed her way in through a window with a lump of brick.

Cowell’s on site security team sprang into action, detaining the intruder until police could arrive. It appears, however, that they were not fast enough to prevent Zaloumis from finding the star’s bedroom, where she lay on the bed before taking refuge in a walk-in wardrobe.

The encounter ‘was like something out of a horror movie,’ Cowell was quoted as saying by a friend, but although shaken, he was able to look on the bright side. ‘It could,’ he said, ‘have been a whole lot worse.’

And indeed, many celebrities do have even more shocking tales to tell. Jodie Foster, for example, once had a fan try to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in an effort to get her attention. Tennis star Anna Kournikova was targeted by a man who ran naked around what he thought was her house pleading for her to ‘save him’. Director Steven Spielberg was harassed by a woman who thought he had implanted a mind-control chip in her brain.

In dozens of other cases, people have pursued celebrities with unwanted gifts, proposals of marriage and violent threats.

Celebrity obsession

Why do so many celebrities find themselves the victims of this sort of abuse? Some point to failures in the psychiatric health system. Many ‘stalkers’ are psychotic, or have delusional tendencies. They need to be identified more quickly, and given a better standard of care.

Others say celebrities themselves are partly to blame. After all, they point out, they make their livings by encouraging attention, sharing their gossip with reporters and posing for glossy magazines. A whole industry thrives by persuading fans to obsess over the lives of stars. Is it really any surprise when some go too far?

You Decide

  1. If you could, would you want to swap lives with Simon Cowell?
  2. Are you interested in the private lives of celebrities? If so, why?

Activities

  1. In pairs, devise and perform a three minute drama in which a celebrity has an encounter with a crazed fan.
  2. Simon Cowell once said his house was as ‘safe as the Bank of England.’ Now, it seems, his defences need an upgrade. Sketch out a design for a totally stalker-proof mansion, where Cowell could really feel secure.

Some People Say...

“Celebrities bring it upon themselves.”

What do you think?

Q & A

Oh well. Lucky I’m not planning on becoming a Hollywood star.
Actually, it’s not just celebrities who are targeted by stalkers, although they are more at risk than other people. It is estimated that one in four women in the UK will be stalked at some point in their lives. This can mean unwanted phone-calls or gifts, being followed in the street, or even threats.
What do I do if I think someone is stalking me?
There are many organisations that offer support and advice to victims of stalking. But if you ever feel threatened by someone’s behaviour, or think someone is following you, the best thing to do is to call the police straight away. Courts can impose a restraining order, forcing the stalker to stay away or face criminal charges, and harassment is a serious crime.

Word Watch

Simon Cowell
British record executive Simon Cowell shot to fame as a judge on talent contest TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor and Pop Idol. He has an estimated fortune of more than £200 million.
Ronald Reagan
Jodie Foster’s stalker became obsessed with her performance in the film Taxi Driver, in which she plays a child prostitute. His attempt to kill the US president was inspired by a similar event in the film.
Delusional tendencies
About ten per cent of stalkers suffer from ‘erotomania’, a condition which causes them to become convinced that their target is secretly in love with them. Any actions taken by the target are interpreted as further proof of that love.

Subjects

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