Simon Cowell and Ellen Degeneres EW Interview – Exclusive Preview

Simon Cowell and Ellen Degeneres sat down with Entertainment Weekly for an interview, and I’ve got exclusive excerpts from this week’s cover story.

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Ellen talks about keeping inside info off limits on her talk show (unless the contestant is REALLY a jerk), why her judging on American Idol will differ from her judging on So You Think You Can Dance, and disrespectful contestants (Simon likes them, Ellen does not)

Plus, Ellen and Simon go head to head on gay baiting! And Simon on quitting American Idol after Season 9, “That’s quite a tricky situation you’ve put me into! I think right now we have to concentrate on the next season and just get through that and worry about everything else afterwards.”

Simon really is mean to people sometimes, ” says Ellen. If he’s rude, I’m going to let him know he’s rude.”

Pick up the next issue of EW on newsstands Friday, Jan 8

Check out exclusive excerpts, after the jump!

EW: Ellen, being on Idol should also be a boon to your talk show, since you’ll have each kicked-off contestant as a guest and can give some behind-the-scenes scoop. Is there anything that will be off-limits?

DeGeneres: I think anything that will hurt Idol in any way. I don’t want to give anything away. And if someone’s a real jerk, I’m not going to expose them. I may change my mind if they really are a jerk.

Cowell: They’re very media savvy, these contestants. You never really get to know much about them because they’re aware of themselves and they’re always nice to you. It’s only afterwards that it all changes.

DeGeneres: But when you give your feedback, Simon, and somebody talks back to you, that’s one thing that I just don’t think I would tolerate. It’s unbelievable that people don’t have any respect. They go on a show, they know they’re going to be judged, that’s what the entire show is about, and yet they tell you you’re wrong. It’s just rude and disrespectful and not okay. So that’s not going to happen on my dime.

EW: Ellen, you are the first Idol judge with no experience in the music industry. Do you think it matters?

DeGeneres: It’s not like I’m not a huge fan of music. That accounts for something. I’ve also been on stage, alone, trying to entertain an audience. I started in stand-up for 15 years. I know how important it is to reach that audience. So I can put myself in their position. It’s not necessarily singing, but it’s keeping an audience captivated.

Cowell: The only people who matter in the judging process are the public. We could hire four incredible vocal coaches tomorrow, who know more about music than I’ll ever know in a lifetime, and it will be the most boring show in the world. It’s more than a scientific ability, it is your star power that is vital. Ellen has got a good instinct for people, and that is absolutely crucial.

EW: Ellen, last year you served as a judge on an episode of So You Think You Can Dance – although it seemed like you were going more for comedy than for criticism.

DeGeneres: I just wanted to go see the show, and suddenly I was asked if I want to be a judge. And I’m like, Well, those are better seats – I’ll be a judge.” I just thought it would be interesting, and then I thought, Oh, I have to actually critique them.” I don’t know anything about dance, so I just really did focus on making it funny. But it’s a totally different thing [from] singing. And I will be funny [on Idol]- if something’s obnoxious or stupid and there’s a joke to be made, that’s what I do first and foremost. But I’ll have more to say about a singer – with singing, it’ll be funny, but there will also be true, honest critiquing.

EW: Ellen, you’ve signed a five-year contract – and rumors persist that Simon will leave Idol after his contract is up in 2010. How do you feel about the prospect of being a judge without him?

DeGeneres: If Simon goes, I go!

Cowell: [Laughs] Oh, Ellen!

DeGeneres: I will not be there without Simon.

Cowell: That’s quite a tricky situation you’ve put me into! I think right now we have to concentrate on the next season and just get through that and worry about everything else afterwards.

EW: Ellen, in the past Simon and Ryan have been criticized for their gay-themed banter. Are you going to police this?

DeGeneres: Simon, I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you – I’m gay.

Cowell: Are you serious? No one told me that. Let me tell you something: We are the least racist, homophobic show in the world. What we do have, thank God, is a sense of humor. I hate political correctness. I wouldn’t go into any show saying anything is off-limits. If we have to abide by a ton of rules, we might as well call it a day now.

EW: Is that cool with you, Ellen?

DeGeneres: Well, I don’t go by that rule, where there’s no political correctness at all. If we lived in a world where there was no such thing as racism or homophobia, then obviously there would be no off-limits. Unfortunately, there are people in this world that don’t like other people, and that was one of the issues that was brought up about Adam Lambert. So I’m sensitive to it just because I’ve experienced that kind of discrimination. At the same time, the stuff that Simon and Ryan do – none of that has ever been offensive to me. I’m more offended by people who make jokes about something sounding like an animal that’s been caught in a lawn mower or whatever. Because there are sick people out there that would go, What’s that sound like?”

About mj santilli 33689 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!

20 Comments

  1. Cool. I like their dynamic. Ellen is someone I really look up to and I think her influence will be good for Simon.

  2. I guess Ellen missed Simon’s likening a performance to the sound of a cat being thrown off a building.

  3. I guess Ellen missed Simon’s likening a performance to the sound of a cat being thrown off a building.

    Well, naturally TopCatDC, with your screen name, you were probably very, very sensitive to that! Ha! ;-)

  4. DeGeneres: But when you give your feedback, Simon, and somebody talks back to you, that’s one thing that I just don’t think I would tolerate. It’s unbelievable that people don’t have any respect. They go on a show, they know they’re going to be judged, that’s what the entire show is about, and yet they tell you you’re wrong. It’s just rude and disrespectful and not okay. So that’s not going to happen on my dime.

    But she has also said she thinks Simon is too darn mean to contestants. Shouldn’t they be allowed to defend themselves, Ellen? You’re sending a mixed message.

    Congrats on the exclusive excerpts, MJ!

  5. Will, I think there’s a difference between being rude and defending yourself – all in the tone I guess. You can respectfully disagree, or you can be an ass, or of course since the voters seem to hate it probably better off you just zip it in most circumstances, lol!

  6. And Simon-wise too, there is a difference between criticizing and just being a jerk. He goes either way sometimes. Especially if you sing about a bird lol.

  7. Congratulations MJ on scoring the exclusives!!

    I’m more offended by people who make jokes about something sounding like an animal that’s been caught in a lawn mower or whatever. Because there are sick people out there that would go, “What’s that sound like?”

    Am I the only 1 who’s not sure if this is a joke or if Ellen’s being serious? I lean to thinking she’s being serious because she’s a known defender of the humane treatment of animals and we all know Simon’s said stuff like that. But I’m not sure.

  8. Anyway, I think this will be a really strong dynamic between the judges. With Kara having a year under her belt and Simon/Ellen being friends for so long, I think it will be good. People need to stop being so critical and just see how the season goes before making judgements! I am so looking forward to the judging panel this year.

  9. I will probably be muting the TV when Randy and Kara speak…enough said!!!

  10. I’ll miss Paula’s loopiness, but Ellen will be a different kind of enjoyment that I’m looking forward to.

  11. Their back and forth in the excerpts (congrats, MJ!) has gotten me more excited about the judging this year. It could be really fun for Simon to have someone so quick-witted to banter with, as long as it doesn’t become the focus of the show. Simon and Paula’s banter was fun when they were both mentally involved with what was going on around them, but it became obnoxious when they ignored the contestants and bickered/fooled around like bored children. Hopefully Ellen can spark Simon’s interest in the actual show again. If not, I’m happy to see Simon go at the end of the season. Bring someone else in who still finds the job interesting.

    Cowell: They’re very media savvy, these contestants. You never really get to know much about them because they’re aware of themselves and they’re always nice to you. It’s only afterwards that it all changes.

    That’s a very interesting quote. C’mon, name names, Simon!

  12. Their back and forth in the excerpts

    Oh, it’s not that big a deal. Other mags got the quotes too. But it’s nice to get sent material ahead of time like the big guys. :).

  13. But it’s nice to get sent material ahead of time like the big guys. :) .

    You’re one of the big guys now!!

  14. Great tidbit on the interview. I love Ellen, she is a wonderful human being and is a very intelligent charistmatic woman and a very savvy comedienne. On Simon, at times I want to kiss him regarding his past comments at other times I have laughed so hard on his not so nice comments. At other times I want to choke him when he gets out of hand and way too nasty.

  15. It’s going to be a revelation to have a judge who’s quick and smart and articulate and kind and funny and sober and wise in the ways of both showbiz and biz-biz. I may just stare mutely at my tv set for the first few episodes, in shock at the difference.

    Please, let there be a difference.

  16. hmm im EXTREMELY interested to see how Simon handles those gay themed jokes against other contestants or against Ryan now that Ellen is on board. Simon has done it since the first year the show’s been on, especially in the first round of auditions.

    One moment that stands out to me was when he asked this gay guy if he’s a girl and this shocked look on his face when he said he’s a guy, or even the subtle hints about Adam’s sexuality on the show like saying how Born To Be Wild was like watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show or something of that nature, or when he told Ryan he’s SURE of the fact that Ryan liked Norman Gentle in a different kind of way, this past season.

    Something tells me he’s still gonna do it. i cant wait to see Ellen’s reaction to it.

  17. a very intelligent charistmatic woman and a very savvy comedienne

    ITA. I saw her perform live during those 15 years of stand-up, before she was ever on TV. Though she just wasted airspace on SYTYCD, I just love her, I don’t even care…

  18. Ellen is one of my favorite entertainers (everything from her TV sitcoms to her talk show), so I am keeping my fingers crossed that she makes Idol even better than it has been …

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