09/09/2009 AT 8:30 PM ET
Ellen DeGeneres is taking Paula Abdul’s place as the fourth judge on American Idol.
“DeGeneres will sit alongside Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi and offer her own unique perspective to the contestants throughout the competition,” Fox television says in a statement.
DeGeneres, 51, begins her stint after the audition rounds, which have featured a rotating group of celebrity guest judges including Shania Twain, Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Joe Jonas and Kristin Chenoweth.
“I’m going to have a day job and a night job,” DeGeneres said at her talk show taping Wednesday, assuring her audience that The Ellen DeGeneres Show will continue. “This is so exciting for me.”
Abdul abruptly announced in August, just before the start of American Idol’s ninth season, that with “sadness in my heart” she was leaving the highly rated show hosted by Ryan Seacrest.
In the taping for Thursday’s Ellen DeGeneres Show, DeGeneres said the deal had been in the works for the last couple of weeks. “I’ve been dying to tell everyone,” she says. “It’s just been so hard to keep it a secret and we just finally got the OK and I’m so excited. It is going to be so much fun.”
The People’s Voice
She said she’s been a longtime fan of the show – “I have not missed one episode” – and she plans to serve as the voice of the regular audience member.
“Hopefully I’m the people’s point of view because I’m just like you,” DeGeneres says. “I sit at home and I watch it. I’m not looking at it in a critical way from the producer’s mind. I’m looking at it as a person who is going to buy the music and is going to relate to that person.
The next season of American Idol begins in January. In the statement released by Fox, Idol creator and executive producer Simon Fuller says, “Ellen has been a fan of the show for many years, and her love of music and understanding of the American public will bring a unique human touch to our judging panel.”