Ellen DeGeneres will serve as the fourth judge on American Idol in season 9, Fox announced this afternoon. The talk show host/comedian will sit on the judges’ panel with Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardia after the auditions, effectively replacing Paula Abdul. DeGeneres revealed the news today to studio audience members while taping an installment of Ellen that will air tomorrow; she also reassured them she is keeping her day job. “This is so exciting for me,” DeGeneres told the audience. “We’ve been dealing with this for the last couple of weeks and I’ve been dying to tell everyone. It’s just been so hard to keep it a secret and we just finally got the okay and I’m so excited. It is going to be so much fun. I don’t know how it happened myself but I have not missed one episode of that show. I’ve 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’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. So I’m hopefully going to be that voice of what we’re all doing at home.”

Guest judges for the audition phase of the competition include Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, and Joe Jonas. Season 9 debuts on Fox in January 2010.

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