by Hilton Hater at

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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by Hilton Hater at

You might know him as the cranky judge on American Idol, but Simon Cowell has a soft and charitable side.

And it was on full display this week.

The music producer has gathered a slew of artists for a London-based charity single, a cover of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts." The version hit British radio this morning and is worth a listen:

The single  features Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, Rod Stewart, Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Bublé, Susan Boyle, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Cheryl Cole, Leona Lewis, Mika and James Blunt, among others.

It will be available for download this Sunday, with all proceeds benefitting the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

Yesterday in Hollywood, meanwhile, over 80 singers united to record a remake of "We Are the World."

Isn't it refreshing to see so many celebrities get together for a reason that doesn't include a police blotter or publicity for a movie?

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by Hilton Hater at

American Idol viewers haven't seen Ellen DeGeneres on TV yet. But Simon Cowell may have already had enough of her!

The comedian started taping the Hollywood rounds of the show last week and will debut on Fox on February 9. How is she getting along with the most important panelist of all?

“Their relationship started poorly, but now the situation has escalated,” a source told RadarOnline.com.

  • Ellen as a Judge
  • Simon Photograph

The tension stems from Ellen's very first day on set, as reports indicate Simon showed up an hour and a half and DeGeneres was "greatly annoyed" by such tardiness.

“There’s two camps on the show this season,” said a show insider. “It’s a lot more tense than previous seasons. It seems as if Ellen has decided to try to take control since Simon is on his way out and that’s created problems.”

Sounds like it will create great television, as well. Are you excited for Ellen to debut? Do you wanna see Katy Perry take over for Cowell next season?

You can also check out the leaked names of rumored season nine semifinalists. The next American Idol will likely come from this group.

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by Hilton Hater at

We know two things about Robert Pattinson:

  1. He can act.
  2. He can make women everywhere swoon.

We also know the star doesn't have a terrible voice, but does that mean he's prepared to make an album?

Sources tell London's The Sun that none other than Simon Cowell has approched Pattinson about recording a CD. This has even led to a rumored bidding war between companies vying to put out Robert's album.

But an insider claims the actor, who plays piano and guitar, is unsure about delving into another industry:

"Robert is reluctant to be turned into a pop star - and takes his music very seriously. He is a bit wary of signing up with Cowell who is, of course, associated with X Factor and pop."

He's also associated with creating worldwide singing sensations, but it's not as though Robert needs help in that area. He's on the verge of becoming a true movie star.

  • Giant Star
  • Simon C.

There's no way Simon Cowell has given the thumbs up to a Robert Pattinson album... right?

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by Hilton Hater at

Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol after this season.

This news is very sad for those of us who appreciate Simon's sarcasm, wit, honesty and entertainment value as a whole. But it also offers an opportunity for Idol to truly branch out.

Sure, Ellen DeGeneres as a judge (starting February 9) is a departure from the show's typical, music-driven basis for selecting its panelists. However, we're talking about change fans can truly believe in...

... which brings us to our first proposed replacement for Cowell. He, along with many of the options below, might not seem equipped for the job. But hear us out, and then let us know who you wanna see sit in Simon's seat in 2011:

Barack Obama: As someone who once got 66,882,230 votes in a single day, he's the only guy more popular than the show. Or at least better known. Plus, can you imagine the criticism? "Look ... Kris ... You possess a terrific talent, but at the end of the day, Adam possesses the kind of change that can bring the music world together."

Nelson from The Simpsons: Really, how much more analysis do 90 percent of the performances need than a simple: "HA-ha!"

Donald Trump: Every critique of his will be the absolute BEST!

OBAMA, TRUMP, WOODS OR SOMEONE ELSE? WHO SHOULD BE THE NEXT AMERICAN IDOL JUDGE?

Gilbert Arenas. Pros: Will bring hip vibe, comic relief to the panel. Cons: May pull piece on a contestant after a crappy performance, as a "joke" of course.

Tiger Woods: He has a lot of free time these days and knows a lot about young talent. Just keep him away from the female contestants.

Carson Daly: If only he actually existed.

Simon Cow: He'll be moo-ved by the ballads each week and will always udder praise. Oh, wait, sorry, we thought we were writing jokes for Jay Leno.

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by Hilton Hater at

Earlier today, Randy Jackson said he hopes the American Idol focus soon shifts from the judging table to the singing stage.

That may be difficult after today's announcement: Simon Cowell has confirmed that he's leaving the series after this season.

At a gathering of the country's TV critics in California, Cowell said he's bringing his popular UK show The X Factor to the United States in 2011.

“We did talk about me staying on both shows, but when we looked at the practicalities of that, it was impossible,” Cowell said. “In my opinion, it’s like having a good player and a good football team. The two have to be okay together. I believe it’s not my show, but it’s still very close to me... I’m confident [American Idol] will continue to be the No. 1 show. Everyone is committed to keeping it that way.”

Simon Photograph

The X Factor is almost identical to Idol, except that groups are allowed to enter the singing competition and there's no age limit on contestants. Leona Lewis was crowned its champion one season, launching her successful career.

Is there really room for it and Idol to air simultaneously? And, more pressingly, will you even watch American Idol without Simon Cowell as a judge?

 

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by Hilton Hater at

It's official: Ellen DeGeneres is part of the American Idol family.

The comedian was announced as the show's fourth judge, taking over for Paula Abdul, months ago. But she now appears in a series of promotional photos for the competition and there's truly no going back.

Ellen will debut on the panel on February 9.

Prior to that, Idol will feature a number of celebrity guest judges - including Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris, Joe Jonas, Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry - as it narrows its season nine field down to the Hollywood round.

The New Panel

American Idol will begin its search for the next Kris Allen, Adam Lambert or Carrie Underwood is less than a week! It premieres on January 12 and THG will be there every step of the way, posing almost-daily reviews, recaps and videos of contestants.

Won't you join us? For now, check out Ellen and the rest of the cast below:

  • Ellen as a Judge
  • Simon Photograph
  • Randy Jackson Pic
  • Seacrest
  • Ellen Promo Pic
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by Hilton Hater at

We're less than a month away from the premiere of American Idol season nine.

While the major show news over the last few months involved Ellen DeGeneres as the new judge; the latest buzz regarding the competition revolves around the man that truly makes the series what it is: Simon Cowell.

According to Simon's brother Tony, a radio personality with a weekly podcast: “A press statement is being prepared which will confirm what everybody expected: Simon will leave Idol at the end of 2010 to concentrate on bringing the American version of ‘X Factor’ to U.S. TV in 2011.”

If true, that would make this Cowell's final season as a panelist. Would you even watch American Idol if he left?

Simon

Regarding the season itself, Fox announced a few key dates for it this week:

  • January 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27; February 2, 3: Nationwide auditions for Hollywood. Rotating guest judges will include Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris, Joe Jonas, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, and Shania Twain.
  • February 9: Hollywood rounds. DeGeneres debuts.
  • February 17: 24 semifinalists announced.
  • March 16: 12 finalists announced.

Also of note: there will be no Wild Card round this year, as the controversial addition to last season's Idol gave the judges the power to keep one contestant on even after he/she was voted off by viewers.

Remember: THG is your destination for complete American Idol recaps, videos and commentaries once the season begins!

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by Hilton Hater at

By now, you must have seen the commercials and heard the news:

American Idol returns to dominate the TV landscape on January 12!

But will it be the same Idol fans have fallen in love with over the years? Not exactly, says Simon Cowell, and he points to new judge Ellen DeGeneres as the reason why.

“She’s going to be very different than Paula,” Cowell told Extra. “I think she’s probably quite nervous... She’s smart, but make no mistakes: this will be a very different kind of show than what you’re used to.”

Hey, as long as it produces the next Adam Lambert, Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, we'll be happy!

Cowell

Simon was also asked about Susan Boyle, the singing sensation he helped discover. He's in the process of producing a documentary about her life

“It’s her story... so you hear it all in her words,” he said. “It’s fascinating seeing it through her eyes.”

Are you excited for the return of American Idol? What about the overabundance of Simon Cowell chest hair above?

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by Hilton Hater at

There was no way Fox was gonna lose two American Idol judges in one week.

With just a year left on his contract, Simon Cowell is reportedly on the verge of signing a new, three-year deal with the top-rated show on television. It would be worth $45 million.

Simon Pic

While Fox has no comment at this time, Robert Sillerman - the CEO of CXX, the parent company of 19 Entertainment - went on record today, saying:

"We've heard from Fox, who has asked us for approval for Simon Cowell to appear for three more years on Idol. They, in their negotiations with Cowell, have asked us to pre-approve him not only for American Idol '09, which has begun taping, but they have also asked us for approval for '10 and '11, indicating to us that they're finishing their negotiation with Cowell. We did grant approval for that quite obviously."

Reportedly, Paula Abdul was offered around $8 million/year. Think the pay discrepancy between her and Simon is fair?

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