Ellen DeGeneres on Simon Cowell: He's Mean!

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Last night, American Idol viewers met a pair of rumored semifinalists: Casey James and Haeley Vaughn.

But while we're excited to hear more from them and other singers, the focus of the show will likely return to the judging table next week. That's because Ellen DeGeneres debuts as a panelist on Tuesday night.

Asked about her co-star by Entertainment Tonight, Ellen recently said: "He's actually meaner than I thought. It's hard to listen to him tell people things and me not to go, 'You poor thing!'"

Despite this critique, and despite rumors that she and Cowell are already fighting, an insider says everything is fine between the pair.

Yes, Simon appeared late at a taping last month, but apologized and DeGeneres "accepted it right away and was fine," says the source.

So, can Ellen offer any spoilers about which contestants make it far in Hollywood? No, but she does tease: "We have a wide variety [of talent]... somebody for everybody, I hope."

She's already getting good at this marketing game. Are you excited for her to take part on the show?

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American Idol Quotes

Brooke White's tears come from the authentic, good soul that she is. Her heart was breaking because she was overwhelmed with the experience she had with the show and the gift that it brought.

Paula Abdul [after Brooke White was eliminated on season seven]

I read some of this online this morning and just for the record, the rumors — they’re not true. She’s part of our family and we love her.

Ryan Seacrest [on rumor of Paula Abdul being drunk on the show]