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Ellen Degeneres Sings a New Tune on 'American Idol'; Critics Rave

Ellen Degeneres Sings a New Tune on 'American Idol'; Critics Rave

Lesbian talk show host Ellen DeGeneres made her 'American Idol' debut Tuesday night on Fox. Ellen took over the seat once kept warm by Paula Abdul. Until now, guest judges included Mary J. Blige, Katy Perry, Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris. Ellen joined fellow 'Idol' judges Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell. 

We were all so nervous weren't we? You would think the entire American Idol enterprise was resting on Ellen's shoulders prior to her debut. But, rest-assured, our lady of the hour handled herself with class, wit and charm-as usual.

Ellen DeGeneres, our favorite lesbian talk show host, made her American Idol debut Tuesday night and we are certain that Fox reached an all-time ratings high.

The reality show singing competition, now in its 9th season, presented Ellen for the first time as the fourth Idol judge and audiences fell in love with the comic's wit, sarcasm and of course, kindness.

Ellen, 52, took over the seat once kept warm by former 80's pop princess Paula Abdul, who quit last summer in a contract renewal dispute.

Ellen has the ability to make audiences howl and last night's show was no exception as she told one lone hopeful, "You frighten me...sexy and scary...it's a fine line."

And when she's nice, she means it telling one contestant, "I think you're unique. Accept who you are."

DioGuardi says Ellen brings a sense of humor to Idol this season. "I think she also knows more about music than you think she does," the second-year judge told reporters Wednesday. "I felt she had a really good handle on whether a contestant had potential, had star quality. She knew if something was off in the vocals or in their performance. And I thought she delivered the message with kindness but also had criticism in there."

The tough critics gave Ellen rave reviews after her Idol debut Wednesday.

The New York Times noted she was "witty both in her embraces and her take-downs."

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The Los Angeles Times applauded her "calm demeanor and deadpan wit."

Entertainment Weekly said, "Not only did the comedian/talk-show host treat the Paula Abdul Memorial Chair with a level of dignity and purpose that it had never before experienced, but she wasn't afraid to dole out tough criticism when necessary."

On Ryan Seacrest's radio show Tuesday, Ellen called the "Hollywood Week" hopefuls a "great, eclectic group" and was shocked at "how little experience some of the have."

"It's like they're literally coming out of a job and they just have a good voice and they've never really auditioned before." She added.

"Ellen brings a huge fan base and people will be curious to see how she does. But if she performs poorly, that is bad for the show's long-term health," said Entertainment Weekly's Michael Slezak.

Until now, guest judges like Mary J. Blige, Katy Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, Joe Jonas and Neil Patrick Harris have been holding down the fort until Ellen's arrival.

Although a 29 time Emmy-winner, Ellen lacks experience in comparison to fellow Idol judges Randy Jackson, a record producer; songwriter Kara DioGuardi; and record label owner Simon Cowell. However, the out comedian has plenty of experience in being judged.

"Apparently, there's a lot of debate going on right now, whether I'm qualified or not to be the new judge on American Idol... I'll tell you right now, how I know I'm going to be a great judge -- because I've spent my whole life being judged," she said on her talk show. "So, I know what it's like. So, I will be kind. I will be compassionate. I will be empathetic, and I will be truthful. I will be an honest judge without being mean."

Ellen also intends to be the voice for the at-home-viewer. 

"I'm thrilled to be the new judge on American Idol. 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."

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