Ellen DeGeneres Hits High Notes on 'Idol' Debut
By Amber James Posted Feb 10th 2010 09:53AM
Ellen DeGeneres finally made her 'American Idol' debut on Tuesday night, sitting along side Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi at the judges' table. It was Hollywood week on 'Idol,' and DeGeneres proved from the get go that she was there to work and not overshadow the contestants. DeGeneres seems to be fitting in nicely, and she's been getting nothing but raves from critics. See what critics (and fans) are saying after the jump. >>
With DeGeneres now a part of the dysfunctional 'Idol' family, critics seem to be welcoming her with open arms. "Even if 'American Idol' ends this week, there will officially be an Ellen Era: in just one episode, new judge Ellen DeGeneres displayed why it's no stretch at all for her to step into Paula Abdul's chair. She was witty both in her embraces and her take-downs," The NY Times wrote.
Even critics who had doubts realized DeGeneres filled gaps that were clearly lacking at the 'Idol' judging table. "Although I initially thought she was a terrible choice (based on her spotlight-hogging star power, her conflict of interest and one astoundingly painful guest judge appearance on 'So You Think You Can Dance'), I can now say that Ellen DeGeneres is exactly what's been missing from the judge's table since the fourth season: Passion... Unlike Randy, Kara or Simon, Ellen treated her new gig as a job worth taking seriously," said MTV's Jim Cantiello.
DeGeneres acknowledged at the beginning of the episode that even though she wasn't a singer, she understood the pressure it takes to perform and entertain large audiences. The sincere remark made some forget about Paula Abdul completely. "She got to work being honest, but not brutally honest, lightening the mood when tension threatened to take over the room," Rolling Stone writes.
Of course, DeGeneres' humor still made its way into the room, which was probably a sigh of relief to some contestants stressed about making a great first impression during auditions. The Wall Street Journal liked DeGeneres' humor: "It is clear, at least from these scenes, that Ellen is taking her role seriously. With the last four contestants from day one on stage, Ellen asked one to step forward. Another stepped forward -- no, wait, back. The contestants are on edge. 'You, step a little to the left.' Ahhhhh, a joke! They were all through. Simon smirked, 'You sadist.' Joke rating: 8 out of 10."
Even fans sang their praises about her role. "Better then I thought she would be. Level headed, great judge so far," a PopEater Facebook fan wrote. Another fan agreed, "Ellen did a great job. I love her humor."
Surprisingly, many critics used DeGeneres' reviews to point out what the other judges lacked. "Breathe easy, America. She did fine. She's got a brain. She's got ears. She says funny things sometimes. Considering the caliber of 'American Idol' judges (other than Simon) that makes her Mozart. And now that there finally is someone on the panel who has something to offer. Kara really disappears into the woodwork; confirming what we all knew -- she's as useless as cufflinks on pants," Huffington Post's Ken Levine wrote.
In this undated publicity image released by Fox, new "American Idol," judge Ellen DeGeneres is shown. (AP Photo/Fox, Michael Becker)
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