Ellen Replaces Paula Abdul As 4th ‘Idol’ Judge

Paula Abdul really isn’t coming back to us; she’s gone for good. After lining up guest judges during season nine “American Idol” auditions, Fox has permanently replaced Abdul with talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

DeGeneres revealed the big news on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in an episode scheduled to air today.

“I’m thrilled to be the new judge on American Idol,” said DeGeneres 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.”

She assured her audience that she wasn’t giving up her Emmy-award winning talk show but that she was going to be working “a day job and a night job.”

“The times we’re living in,” she joked. “We’re all doing that.”

Photo: AP Photo

Ellen DeGeneres arrives at the Daytime Emmy Awards  in Los Angeles. 

Since news of DeGeneres’ new job broke last night, everyone from fans to critics to Sharon Osbourne have chiming in online, ranting and raving about whether Fox just made a genius move or the dumbest decision ever.

“I mean, really? Ellen DeGeneres?,” wrote “Idol” blogger MJ Santilli at mjsbigblog.com. “She guest judged ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ last season, and her critiques were comic relief. So is she going to be a real judge or some kind of joke? She’s a comedian, not a singer or a musician. I’m kinda flummoxed here.”

Osbourne told People magazine the fact that DeGeneres isn’t a part of the music industry is part of her draw.

“She will be a breath of fresh air on that show, a complete breath of fresh air,” Osbourne told People magazine. “It’s new blood. And [American Idol] needed something new to happen.

“I think if they had replaced Paula with another singer, Janet Jackson or J.Lo, it would have been too expected. ‘Oh well, there we go, another singer.’ And with Ellen, you’ve got someone who knows about entertaining, and everything that goes into it, which also speaks for the people.”

DeGeneres explained that she hopes to be the “people’s point of view.”

“I’m just like you. 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.”

I think DeGeneres makes a very good point. We’ve already got the expert advice of record producer/music manager Randy Jackson, music exec/music manager Simon Cowell and singer-songwriter/record producer Kara DioGuardi and so I think it will also be helpful to hear from the potential consumer.

For example, look at Bob Dylan. If a singing judge was to critique one of Dylan’s performances, they might tell him his voice sounds horrible, that his lyrics are mumbled and totally unintelligible and that his stage presence is just terrible. A music lover and someone coming from the “people’s point of view” might tell Dylan that she would buy one of his albums because he has something very unique going for him.

I think DeGeneres did an awesome job guest hosting on “SYTYCD” and that her cheesy jokes were cute. And with Paula out of the picture, the contestants are going to need someone to have their back and give them some positive support. Although I’m going to miss Paula and her craziness, I think Ellen will add some fun and a great attitude to the show.

DeGeneres is joining the ninth season of “Idol,” which airs in January 2010, after the auditions have wrapped up. Fox announced that in addition to Shania Twain, Victoria Beckham and Katy Perry, guest judges during auditions will also include Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Jonas Brothers‘ Joe Jonas, actor Neil Patrick Harris and Avril Lavigne.

After announcing in early August that she was leaving “Idol,” Abdul has kept busy by guest starring as a courtroom judge on Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva.” Speaking of divas, Abdul will also host this year’s “VH1 Divas” Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. EST. She told TV Guide that she’s also looking into hosting her own talk show.

Click here and here for the AP articles.

Click here for the People story.

Click here for the “American Idol” Web site.