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DeGeneres Joining ‘Idol’ Judges Panel

She may not sing much, but Ellen is doing her little dance on over to the judges' table on Fox's "American Idol."

Stand-up comic, talk-show host and rabid "Idol" fan Ellen DeGeneres will be the fourth judge on the new season starting in January, Fox announced Wednesday and DeGeneres revealed to her audience on her show Thursday. DeGeneres takes the seat vacated by Paula Abdul, who left the show in a salary dispute last month.

"It is going to be so much fun," DeGeneres told her audience. "I don't know how it happened myself, but I have not missed one episode of that show. I've watched every single thing. I love everything about it and I love music."

Amid music professionals Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi on "Idol'''s judging panel, DeGeneres creates a "fan" seat - albeit a fan who knows how to get a laugh. On her show, DeGeneres comes across as a regular fan, dancing to music she enjoys and admiring various performers. "Hopefully I'm the people's point of view," she tells her audience, "because I'm just like you."

Music consultant Tom Vickers calls it "a smart move. She's got a huge fan base and a feel for music. From the moment she hosted the Grammy Awards in 1996, it's been obvious (she's) a big music fan. She'll fill the cheerleader role Paula had, but from a true fan's perspective."

George Varga, pop music critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune, says, "She's an entertainment professional but not a music biz insider or veteran, and that could be a breath of fresh air. And the laughs she provides will be intentional."

DeGeneres says she's not giving up her popular daily syndicated show. "Don't worry about that. I'm going to have a day job and a night job. The times we're living in, we're all doing that."

But it's likely to pay better than your typical second job. Abdul left after being offered a three-year, eight-figure deal that fell substantially short of host Ryan Seacrest's three-year, $45 million pact covering "Idol" duties and other programming projects.

During the audition rounds now under way, "Idol" is filling in with guest judges. DeGeneres, who hosted the charity fundraiser "Idol Gives Back" in 2007, will join the show after the auditions.

"I could not be more excited," executive producer Simon Fuller said in a news release. "Her love of music and understanding of the American public will bring a unique human touch to our panel."

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