Michael Rozman/Warner Bros
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros
Though, to be fair, she did have a (tiny) bit more warning as to the prime-time development than the rest of us. And that includes Ryan Seacrest.
The talk show host turned reality judge told the Idol ringmaster on his morning radio show that making yesterday's shock announcement was "really exciting, 'cause this has been going on for a few weeks just quietly. I wasn't sure if you knew; I thought you'd call me or something…"
"They didn't even ask me to be a guest judge," DeGeneres said of the unexpected job offer. "It just went straight to 'Would you like to be…'"
But don't expect the new opinion-wielder to try and replace everyone's favorite rambling sycophant.
"I hope Paula is OK with it," said DeGeneres, who in addition to not talking to Abdul about her new gig has also so far refrained from speaking to Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson or Kara DioGuardi. "I don't want anybody to think that I took Paula's job away."
Now why would they think a crazy thing like that?
"I was shocked, I think, like everybody else," she said of Abdul's straight-up departure. "Paula was a huge part of the show. I think that she's kind of part of the American Idol family, that's how I felt.
"I don't really know what happened, and I was sad and thought there's a hole that needs to be filled by someone who's going to contribute in a totally different way…I didn't think for a second that would be me."
Now that it is her, what can fans—who so far have had a rather mixed reaction to news of the replacement—expect her to contribute to the judges' table?
"I'm gonna have fun with it. The one thing you know about me is I'm very honest. But I think you can be honest in a pretty kind way. I hope to be that compassionate person, 'cause that's the one thing Paula did bring is that compassion and that empathy."
And while some armchair (or is that keyboard?) critics have taken aim at DeGeneres' lack of singing or musical background, the comedian says she's not going to pretend to be something she's not.
"First of all, I love music, period. I've always loved music. And I'm a huge fan of the show; I haven't missed a show since season one. I'm just a fan like everyone else. The people are the ones who choose the American Idol. It doesn't come down to a music expert ultimately."
To that end, DeGeneres said she will do her best to become the everyman on the panel.
"It's going to be stimulating. I think it'll add a whole lot of content to my show and I think I'll bring something to that show…I come home at night and watch just like everyone else. So I'll just watch with makeup on."
And possibly one additional garment.
"I'm getting fitted for robes right now and Judge Judy and I are hanging out," she said of her preparation.
DeGeneres also said she was well versed in being on the receiving end of the criticism she will now be called upon to dole out to the contestants.
"I've gone through the criticism. A lot of these kids are thrust into this limelight and don't understand that this is just the beginning of being judged. This is the start of people having opinions about you.
"I think it's going to be a fine line; I'll be honest but I don't like to judge people. I like to opinionate."
She also, apparently, likes to give Seacrest a run for his job-juggling money, what with two TV gigs now on her plate.
"Yesterday I took a bagging job at Whole Foods," she said. "I'm trying to keep up with you.
"This is gonna be great. This is exciting."
Call us crazy, but for some reason this news brings to mind our TV Celebrity Stunt Casting gallery. Check it out!