American Idol’s New Judge: Ellen!
Fox just announced that Ellen DeGeneres will be the new fourth judge on American Idol.
She will be replacing Paula Abdul, beginning her role after a series of special guest fill-ins including Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Joe Jonas, Neil Patrick Harris, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry and Shania Twain.
And none of that one-and-done, guest-judging stuff for her—DeGeneres is coming onboard for the duration.
“I’m thrilled to be the new judge on American Idol,” the Daytime Emmy-winning talk show host said in a statement.
“I’ve watched since the beginning, and I’ve always been a huge fan. So getting this job is a dream come true, and think of all the money I’ll save from not having to text in my vote.” DeGeneres will be joining Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson once the audition rounds—with its oodles of special celebrity appearances—are over.
DeGeneres, of course, is replacing Abdul, who announced her departure after eight years following a round or two of ultimately fruitless contract negotiations.
The veteran pop star was reportedly ticked off because Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest‘s salaries far surpassed her own.
“I’m not leaving here, don’t worry about that,” the 51-year-old chatterbox reassured her audience when she made the announcement during a taping of Ellen.
“I’m gonna have a day job and a night job. The times we’re living in, we’re all doing that.”
And in case you were questioning her music-biz credentials…
“I don’t know how it happened myself,” she said. “I have not missed one episode of that show, I have watched every single thing, I love everything about it, and I love music, as you know.”
The big problem with hiring Ellen has less to do with Ellen than with the continued presence of Kara Dio Guardi, whose contract was re-upped right before Paula’s contract re-negotiations fell apart.
We learned last season that four judges is one too many. The producers were unable or unwilling to get each of the judges to talk a little less, so shows ran long, until, having failed to cut back on the judges or the guest stars or the clip reels, they had to start cutting out performances, and that’s unacceptable on a show that’s far too padded as is.
It seemed Kara tended to talk the most because she wanted to justify her hiring in the first place. As an established star, Simon Cowell is probably still the biggest name on the panel, but now at least an argument could be made for someone else…
Ellen might feel confident enough in her own status to only talk as much as necessary. Or she might feel the need to assert her dominance over the panel, and that could be both time-consuming and awkward.
Take Kara – and/or the equally useless Randy Jackson – out of the mix, and this probably all sorts itself out nicely by the end of the semi-final round in my opinion. Leave four judges in there, and make one of them an incredibly high-profile newbie, and this has the potential to be awkward for at least half a season, if not more.
Ellen’s a fine hire. She’s just one hire too many. One other thought: What will the presence of the most famous gay woman in America do in terms of Simon and Ryan’s ongoing homoerotic/homophobic banter?