Published September 10, 2009
LOS ANGELES – Shortly after the news broke that talk-show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres would join "American Idol" as a fourth judge, fans took to the blogosphere to express either pleasant surprise or total shock that she would be replacing Paula Abdul.
"I mean, really? Ellen DeGeneres?" wrote popular "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."
Others on the Internet, including posters on the AmericanIdol.com forums, said they were pleased that DeGeneres, who admittedly has no formal music experience, just a passion for tunes, would join Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi on "Idol."
Andy Dehnart, a reality television blogger at realityblurred.com, praised the "somewhat random" decision. He called it a 90-degree turn that would give the aging singing contest new life and may prompt more viewers to tune in when DeGeneres first appears during the semifinal rounds, which tend to be the snooziest part of the season.
But DeGeneres' role, whether favored or not, will certainly be different than any of the other judges, as she has no professional music industry experience.
"Hopefully, I'm the people's point of view because I'm just like you," DeGeneres said on her syndicated talk show Thursday. "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."
DeGeneres' hiring as the show's fourth judge all but seals the departure of Abdul, the original third judge who announced she was quitting amid a contract dispute in July.
Abdul had served as judge alongside Cowell and Jackson since the show's debut in 2002. Producers shook up the franchise last season by adding songwriter DioGuardi as a fourth judge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.