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Ellen DeGeneres tells Ryan Seacrest she'll be viewers' voice as 'Idol' judge

September 10, 2009 |  9:59 am

Ellen

In her first interview since news broke Wednesday night that she was joining the judges panel on "American Idol," Ellen DeGeneres said she hopes to bring the viewer perspective to the foursome.

"I'm just a fan like everyone else," she told Ryan Seacrest this morning. "The people choose. Ultimately, it comes down to them, not some executive in the music industry. I hope to be that voice."

DeGeneres said she was shocked and saddened to hear about Paula Abdul's departure from the show last month, and that she'll try to bring the former judge's positive spirit to the panel. "I'm really honest, but I think you can be honest in a kind way. That's one thing Paula did bring to the show, that empathy and compassion, so I hope to do that," she said.

Asked how she'll contend with Simon Cowell and his acerbic remarks, DeGeneres said she's not afraid to call him out. "I'll tell him the same thing I'll tell him when he's on my show, that he's mean," she said.

DeGeneres was not expecting to take over for Abdul until recently, and said she was "surprised" when she was approached about the job. "I didn't think for a second that it could be me," she said. "I had no idea this was even a possibility. When they came to me, I was like, 'I love that show! I would give anything to do it.'

"I love music, period. Always have. And I'm a huge fan of the show. I haven't missed an episode since Season 1," she said.

DeGeneres doesn't foresee a problem juggling both "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Idol" duties. "We have to adjust the schedule a bit. On those days, we'll shoot earlier then I'm going to jump in my car and go and be entertained by these kids singing for us. What you do is a lot harder than what I have to do, Ryan."

And there are benefits for her talk show, too, she added. "I'll get to go and talk about it on the talk show the next day and tape these pieces for it," she said. "I think it will add a whole lot of content to my show."

In the meantime, she's all about the prep. "What's changed now is we have Dave Matthews on the show next week and I'm going to have to tell him what I really think of his performance," DeGeneres joked. 

-- Denise Martin

Photo by TBS

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