American Idol's New Judge: Ellen!

    Paula Abdul has a successor.

    Ellen DeGeneres will be filling that empty fourth chair at the judges' table on the upcoming ninth season of American Idol.

    And none of that one-and-done, guest-judging stuff for her—DeGeneres is coming onboard for the duration.

    "I'm thrilled to be the new judge on American Idol," the Daytime Emmy-winning talk-show host said in a statement.

    "I've watched since the beginning, and I've always been a huge fan. So getting this job is a dream come true, and think of all the money I'll save from not having to text in my vote."

    Hey, we thought dancing was her thing, but this works, too.

    DeGeneres will be joining Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson once the audition rounds—with its oodles of special celebrity appearances—are over.

    DeGeneres, of course, is replacing Abdul, who announced her departure after eight years following a round or two of ultimately fruitless contract negotiations.

    The veteran pop star was reportedly ticked off because Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest's salaries far surpassed her own.

    But we're thinking DeGeneres, who has hosted the Oscars and the Emmys and did some good work as a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance last season, has got to be making fat bank for this gig.

    "I'm not leaving here, don't worry about that," the 51-year-old chatterbox reassured her audience when she made the announcement during a taping of Ellen.

    "I'm gonna have a day job and a night job. The times we're living in, we're all doing that."

    And in case you were questioning her music-biz credentials...

    "I don't know how it happened myself," she said. "I have not missed one episode of that show, I have watched every single thing, I love everything about it, and I love music, as you know."

    "Hopefully I'm the people's point of view, because I'm just like you. I sit at home and I watch it...I'm not looking at it in a critical way, from the music producer's mind. I'm looking at it as a person who's going to buy the music, and who's going to relate to that person.

    "So I'm hopefully going to be the voice of what we're all doing at home."

    (Originally published Sept. 9, 2009, at 5:24 p.m. PT)


    Before Ellen reports for work, we'll be watching American Idol's early-audition rounds, featuring Guest Judges Galore!