Ellen DeGeneres joins 'American Idol' as fourth judge

Ellen-Degeneres-Idol_lEllen DeGeneres will serve as the fourth judge on American Idol in season 9, Fox announced this afternoon. The talk show host/comedian will sit on the judges’ panel with Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardia after the auditions, effectively replacing Paula Abdul. DeGeneres revealed the news today to studio audience members while taping an installment of Ellen that will air tomorrow; she also reassured them she is keeping her day job. “This is so exciting for me,” DeGeneres told the audience. “We’ve been dealing with this for the last couple of weeks and I’ve been dying to tell everyone. It’s just been so hard to keep it a secret and we just finally got the okay and I’m so excited. It is going to be so much fun. I don’t know how it happened myself but I have not missed one episode of that show. I’ve watched every single thing. I love everything about it and I love music, as you know. Hopefully I’m the people’s point of view because I’m just like you…I’m not looking at it in a critical way from the producer’s mind. I’m looking at it as a person who is going to buy the music and is going to relate to that person. So I’m hopefully going to be that voice of what we’re all doing at home.”

Guest judges for the audition phase of the competition include Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, and Joe Jonas. Season 9 debuts on Fox in January 2010.

Talk about it on PW:
Slezak: Does Ellen DeGeneres as the fourth judge mark the end of ‘American Idol’ as we know it?


Comments (397 total) Add your comment
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  • Morgan

    I love Ellen but I just had to remind myself it wasn’t April 1st.

    • Javabooknut

      Ok. um. please let this not be true. Did anyone see her on SYTYCD? Funny but pointless. This may actually be a good reason not to watch. And i didn’t think thye could give me one.

      • ME

        Whatever! Ellen is awesome!! This is a great decision!! And I think American Idol needs some humor. Ellen will present the viewers because she’s not really experienced when it comes to the music business. However, she’s an expert when it comes to entertainment. The contestants need more than just a great voice and musical knowledge to make it in showbiz. I just wonder how Ellen will find time to do this…considering she has her OWN show.

      • Mike G

        I was thinking the same thing Java. I love Ellen, and she tells a good joke, but she just might take as long as Paula did to give a comment. Lets hope she takes this seriously and gives a honest judgement. The world don’t need more sugar coating. If your song is bad that week, hell tell the contestant that. They need to tell the truth, like Simon.

    • crispy

      I think it’s great. Now there will be 2 gay people on America’s most viewed show.

      • ME

        Who’s the other gay person?

      • Kailin

        to ME: I am assuming crispy means Seacrest.

      • Kim from Texas

        Didn’t America speak clearly last season that they didn’t want a gay person to be the winner of American Idol? Clearly, the producers are out of touch with what the majority of America wants in a family friendly show. I am sure that it will make Sleezak very gay (happy).

      • Justin, also from Texas

        Wow, Kim, you are a freaking disgrace to our state. I find that absurdly ignorant and I’m not even gay. Make sure to save me a seat in h3ll when you get there.

      • em

        Kim – from Texas? What a surprise…

      • j from KY

        Kim from TX: FAIL
        Justin from TX: Right on, dude!

      • Jill

        @kim from texas. And as many Americans have made it clear they don’t like bigots. Bigots aren’t family friend either unless you family is named Hitler. If American idol is on the air because of people like you then I hope it gets canned. Ellen can stay on her high rated popular talk show. Not gay or a fan of Ellen but your comment was crap

      • to Kim

        Wow are you a moron! I suspect you are really Aunt Gokey. My family is very friendly and so are my gay neighbors. People come in all shapes and sizes, intelligence and lack of. Clearly your shape and size is stupid, ignorant, ugly bigot. (CG)

    • Emma

      I actually did not see her on SYTYCD but I think she’ll be great on Idol because she is witty and engaging. Aside from Simon, the other judges are basically retarded and can hardly string two words together intelligently.

      • HArcourt bograves


      • Pogo

        At first I thought it would be great for the entertainment and humor value, but upon reflection of her ongoing support for some of the more interesting singers on Idol, I think she’ll be great for judging, too, advocating the more interesting and idiosyncratic voices.

      • Idol and SYTYCD fan

        I didn’t like her judging style on SYTYCD but Simon has been so distracted on Idol that it will be great to see Ellen’s enthusiasm. I love the judges enthusiasm on SYTYCD, but Simon and the rest don’t seem to pay attention. Personally I’m gonna miss Paula and it remains to be seen if Ellen brings some enjoyable comments or just goofy little puns.

      • Al

        She was not very good on SYTYCD. Took a long time to make a silly joke. The thing about Paula is she wasn’t trying to be funny.

      • PG

        Actually AI, Paula *was* trying to be funny! She *hired* writers to write her lines to get back at Simon on the show. Unfortunately, they were poorly timed and Not funny.

        The good thing about Ellen is, she doesn’t always agree with Simon and gave him a hard time when he appeared on Her show. She will actually be Funny and not sound like a drunken, drug-induced mess.

    • Yesenia

      lol, exactly my reaction

    • Simon

      Paula hot, Ellen, well, if I were to be completely honest, not.

      • Sally

        Actually, Paula – stoned and clueless. She was a horrible singer in her day, a good dancer but this isn’t a dancing competition. I was glad to see her go. Ellen – funny and witty. I’m excited – I just hope she can throw some biting wit to add/enhance Simon.

    • caitieflum

      I agree with you. I love Ellen but she is NOT qualified at all.

    • Horace

      AI has … wait for it … jumped the shark. I love Ellen, but she and AI are wrong wrong wrong for each other.

    • Maddy

      I think Ellen is a good choice — she can sort of represent the “Viewer at Home” contingent

      As others have pointed out, it’s not like any of the other judges have actual performance singing backgrounds. Simon in only interested in marketing, Randy is only interested in how many times he can say “Dawg” or “For me, for you” and god knows what Kara is good at, it hasn’t shown up yet (certainly not writing the winning song!) And as much as I liked Paula, let’s face it, it’s not like we were talking Patti LuPone in terms of singing abilites, she was always more along the lines of song interpretation abilities, and that’s exactly what america at home judges.

    • DACON9

      I will not watch idol agains as long as degenerate is a judge who admits she knows nothing about music anyway.

  • Christine

    I love Ellen, but this makes absolutely no sense. They really need to take the opportunity to just leave the panel at three judges…it’s not about them!

    • Heidi

      I think it makes alot of sense actually – she LOVES music, LOVES the show and has always had contestants on her show afterwards to encourage them (sometimes even the ones who don’t make the top 20). She knows the hollywood game pretty well, which is not so far from the music industry really, and she can offer a kind, caring but honest opinion as a music lover as opposed to as a musician. And sorry no offense to Paula but she was trendy and had some hits but her pipes would never have landed her a record deal today. She was a has been (and more of a choreographer) when Idol began and we fell in love with her because of her heart. Ellen is loved and respected by celebs and voters alike and I trust her to stand up to Simon when necessary, or be honest when someone didn’t give a good performance, while still being fragile/careful with people’s hearts.

      • mommy308

        I agree with Heidi. What a wonderful Idea! I’m actually excited to watch idol again!My daughters were upset that Paula left but now they are excited too…C’mon who doesn’t love Ellen? She seems like such a sweet person and my entire family couldn’t be more thrilled. Yay!

      • Pogo

        I also agree with Heidi. here’s what Ellen had to say:
        “Hopefully, I’m the people’s point of view because I’m just like you,” DeGeneres said on her show. “I sit at home and I watch it, and I don’t have that technical … I’m not looking at it in a critical way from the producer’s mind. I’m looking at it as a person who is going to buy the music and is going to relate to that person.”

      • chamlo

        I agree with Heidi. I loved watching Ellen when he had the AI contestants on. He is very supportive and enthusiastic. I think she is a coherent Paula.

        Personally I think Paula is better suited to a dance show. Hope to see her on SYTYCD.

    • Sally in Chicago

      Christine, good point. It’s not about the judges but the new producers think it is. It’s about the talent and contestants….I believe they had it in for Paula when they put Kara on line….all the networks are cutting costs and letting Paula go just reduced the payroll…how much are they paying Ellen?

    • ME

      It’s a great idea. Now they can get rid of that dreadful Kara woman and then you shall your beloved 3 judges.

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  • Samantha

    Comedienne Ellen Being a Guest Judge?wow.I Hope she Judges Right.

    • Michael

      no, they are saying she is permanent

      • Mark

        This was a great race and an amazing penfarmorce by Anton. It’s good to see him back in action. It’s too bad I didn’t bump into you. It would have been nice to meet the face behind irunfar. Hopefully, you enjoyed the NW and will be back again.I opted for the early start as this was my 1st 50 miler and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was great to be 17 miles into a race and being running stride for stride with names like, Anton, Wardian, Jurek, Hal, Crowther, etc even if it was only for just 1 stride.

    • rEAding IZ Funn

      She is not going to be a guest judge. She is going to be a permanent judge on the show. It says it right up there ^

      • Sandup

        Wah! I hope Adrian is OK. *big hugs and good karma*Something else to look into is his spine: most of my heart trouble tuenrd out to be vertebral problems impacting the nerves leading to my heart (plus stress). The spine stuff was easily remedied with chiropractic care!All the best. : )

  • T.T

    totally agree with morgan!
    she can be a guest judge but wat does she know about singing honestly

    • Robbyrob


      What does knowing about singing have to do with it??? Does Simon actually sing? Randy? Does Sharon Osborne have a hidden talent we are not aware of (other than marrying Ozzy?), David Hasselhoff? She has an ear for new music and if you watch her talk show, you’d know that. Ellen gets along famously with all the judges and Ryan. This did surprise me and I love it! In the age of leaks and tweets, this totally shocked me…in a good way! Ellen also has a great rapport with the young people and is a very positive role model. I say good for Fox!

      • Jon

        David Hasselhoff was one of the biggest singing stars in Germany (and other parts of Europe) for quite some time. He’s also starred in a Broadway production. Randy Jackson was a major music producer and even a bassist with Journey, and Simon Cowell is one of the biggest music producers in recent history.
        Other than Randy, I’m not in any way a fan but just saying, they do have significant music credentials. Ellen will be the first Idol judge with absolutely no professional music background. Probably a good thing, hopefully she’ll smack Kara in the bacak of the head every time she talks about ‘artistry’.

  • Tyre

    My jaw is officially dropped…

  • Miriam

    Wow. That’s pretty lame. I like Ellen, but to really replace Paula in any meaningful way, I’d hope for someone with some actual music background and experience.


    • alex

      agree. love ellen as a talk show host and comedienne but… what’s her credibility for judging the biggest singing/talent competition there is? this is people’s dreams on the line… is she just there to provide comedic relief? this decision does not make sense at all?

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    • Sally in Chicago

      Hey producers — how about Donna Summer? Diana Ross? Shania Twain? the list goes on and on….but Ellen? That’s like Rosie is a judge. But the 4 judges is way too much….go back to three…

  • Scott

    @Morgan I did EXACTLY the same thing! If they needed a new fourth judge should it not have been a known musical performer?

  • Heather

    What the hell?! Idol makes no sense anymore. The producers should have taken this as a sign to stick with three judges.

    • smilie12

      Sticking with three judges would mean that we might get to hear the Idols sing a little more. Or perhaps we might learn more about their personalities. We can’t have that because this show has become more about the judges than the Idols.

    • Kim from Texas

      I completely agree. Four judges were too much. Are the producers stuck because the new American Idol table has places for 4 judges and they gave the old table for 3 judges to the Smithsonian?

  • Bob

    What is the step beyond jumping the shark? Anyone watch her judge on SYTYCD? She sucked. Jokes but knew nothing about dance, the same nothing she knows about music. It’s almost as if Idol is sabotaging itself.

    • seattle_girl

      That was my first thought. I love Ellen, but she made for a dreadful judge on SYTYCD. It was nearly painful to watch her.

      • rentagoodbook

        Agree. I love Ellen, but her commentary as a judge on SYTYCD was either making jokes (I can do that) or just stuff like, “wow. beautiful.” What I like about SYTYCD is that the judges (aside from Ellen) actually have a clue about dance, and they can express WHY something was great/not so great. I just don’t see how Ellen as a judge will work well on Idol.

    • Will

      “Jokes but knew nothing about dance”

      I’d hardly call her SYTYCD comments “jokes” because they were self-centered and not funny at all. After that painful to watch outing I’m stunned she was even offered the AI gig.

      Regardless, that’s all I need to know – I’m definitely not watching the next round of AI. For once I’ll actually find out what’s on TV opposite Idol.

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  • caitlin

    Well, this is ridiculous. Stupid.

  • prakticol

    Umm, isn’t she a comedienne? How will she judge without a music background? I think they should put a different Idol fan there every week.

  • Rick

    I love Ellen and I thought she was funny as a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance. That was only for one night though. I think this is a bad decision for an entire season.

    • Horace

      Ditto Rick.

  • Kristina

    LOL @ Avril Lavinge being a guest judge. What a joke this season is turning out to be!

  • JG


    • Mikail

      The locals who live in the Puget Sound know never to trust the wethaer man. It’s not his fault, the wethaer’s just hard to predict in this neck of the woods. The forecast can be 100% chance of rain, however it rarely lasts all day and there are periods of clearing.

  • Kelly

    Mary J is the only person so far who had the ability to actually judge anyone. The rest jokes and one hit wonders. Idol is so going to suck this year. :(

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