Monday, August 2, 2010

Ellen DeGeneres On 'American Idol 2010

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Ellen DeGeneres On 'American Idol': A Look Back Comedian was right when she said judging role wasn't 'right fit.'

"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," DeGeneres said a month after Paula Abdul abruptly left the show.

Fox reality-TV chief Mike Darnell had actually approached DeGeneres' repswith the idea, even though producers also entertained the notion of returning to a three-judge format (as had been the case before Kara DioGuardi came aboard in season eight). Ellen was reportedly ecstatic about joining "Idol," and a deal was quickly hashed out.

Yet before she could even make her debut, Simon Cowell announced he was leaving the show he helped make a pop culture institution. A sense of impending and unwelcome change — and, some might say, doom — enveloped the program as Ellen made her debut. And it really was quite a debut: She was funny but still took the job seriously and was adept at sprinkling her criticism with I-want-you-to-succeed compassion. "You're hiding inside and just scared to death," she told one contestant. "You gotta let go of that, because those nerves are gonna kill you."

We started to wonder if in fact Ellen was what the "Idol" family needed all along. Things changed, however, once the live shows began in late February. She was nervous and struggled to compress her comments into TV-friendly bites, which was strange considering all her on-camera experience. If we hoped Ellen would provide some competition to Simon's must-hear commentary, we were most certainly wrong.

As the show pushed forward, Ellen didn't seem to improve much. Far too many of her comments began with, "I agree with ...," rather than original insight. She seemed almost apologetic as she foisted criticism on contestants clearly on the skids. All too often she'd pop off a joke rather than delivering an enlightening take on a performance. By the final rounds, it really did seem as if Ellen, much like Simon, had mentally checked-out of her judging duties.

And so it comes as no great shock that Ellen has decided to call it quits after just one season. Her talents are far better suited for talk-show work than reality-competition evisceration. Ellen made the right call, and she did so with class and wit. As she tweeted Thursday night, "Dim the lights ... I've voted myself off 'American Idol.' 

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