Ellen finds Simon "a challenge" on "Idol"

Tue Feb 9, 2010 5:11pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - New "American Idol" judge Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday hinted of fireworks between her and Simon Cowell, and said she'd prefer not to sit next to the acid-tongued Briton in future.

The Emmy-award winning comedian and talk show host makes her long-awaited debut on "American Idol" on Tuesday night, replacing Paula Abdul on the four-judge panel.

"He (Cowell) is going to be challenge. He is Simon and I am me, and we both are completely different people. So I think it is going to be as they say, good television," DeGeneres told "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest on his KIIS FM Los Angeles radio show.

"I think he is a funny guy. I think he is a smart guy. I like Simon. Like, on Wednesday I like him. I think...", she added.

DeGeneres, 52, told celebrity TV show "Extra" that in her first "Idol" appearances -- when hopefuls from nationwide auditions compete in Hollywood -- she is sitting next to Cowell, with songwriter Kara DioGuardi on her other side.

But she said that in future shows she "would like to be on the end" with record producer Randy Jackson sitting next to her and Cowell furthest away.

The addition of DeGeneres to the top-rated Fox show has seen mixed reactions from critics who think she lacks music industry experience, and fans of her dry wit on her syndicated daytime TV talk show.

DeGeneres said she planned to use humor and compassion when talking about the performers because she knew what rejection felt like during the ups and downs of her 25 year-long career.

DeGeneres controversially came out as a lesbian in 1997 on her TV sitcom "Ellen". The series was canceled the following year due to slipping ratings, sending her back to the stand-up comedy circuit.   Continued...