Cowell blames "stupid Barry Manilow week" for Hudson's early elimination.

Jennifer Hudson made her talk show debut on Monday and her first guest was none other than acid-tongued American Idol judge Simon Cowell

Cowell, who met Hudson when she competed on the third season of the series in 2004, appeared on The Jennifer Hudson Show to unpack, among other things, the performer's Idol elimination. The discussion marked the first time in 18 years that the pair publicly revisited the fateful night she was sent home.

Cowell was notoriously harsh on Hudson during the competition, famously declaring that the singer, who finished in seventh place, was "out of [her] depth." Looking back, however, the 62 -year-old had nothing but praise for her. "Why was the show so big in those days? It would be because of people like you. It's a combination of talent, determination, and real personality," he said. "And even though we had that banter, you and I, it was always that. I always knew how determined you were. You were funny and you took it with grace because you kind of got it. I always thought that about you." 

Cowell then shared his belief that it was Barry Manilow's "Weekend In New England" that was to blame for her elimination. 

"That night I will never forget," he said. "Who chose stupid Barry Manilow week? It wasn't me." 

He added, "It was not a great song. Of course, it wasn't your fault and then, of course, what happened, happened." 

Cowell then flipped the script, asking Hudson if there's anything she'd change about that night. 

"And then I was thinking to myself a few days ago, 'If you were going to go back in time, would you change the song or would you have kept things as they were?'" he asked. 

Though thrown somewhat by the question, Hudson revealed she doesn't regret singing the 1976 track for what would be her final performance, as it led to her Oscar-winning role as Effie White in Dreamgirls

"No, but it's other songs before that that I would have changed 'cause that song led me to get Dreamgirls, honey," she said. "Barry Manilow structured that song as if it was "And I Am Telling You" and a lot of people thought that's what I was singing."

Simon Cowell Addresses Jennifer Hudson’s ‘American Idol’ Elimination
Credit: Chris Millard/Warner Bros.

Hudson went on to share how determined she felt despite her defeat on the show. 

"By the time I was eliminated, I felt I had gotten an opportunity to display who I was as an artist, so I was okay with being eliminated," she added. "And then once I was, I was like, 'You know what, you're walking away with your talent, you're walking away with your gift. The competition may be over but your passion isn't, your love and your drive isn't.'"

Hudson's star has only grown brighter since her stint on Idol. Just this year she became an EGOT winner after taking home a Tony Award for producing Broadway's A Strange Loop. It will no doubt sit comfortably beside her Oscar, two Grammys, and Daytime Emmy.

For now, she joins fellow Idol alum Kelly Clarkson as a daytime talk show host. Clarkson, she told EW, has been a source of support during this new venture. 

While Cowell left American Idol in 2010, he has since moved on to other reality competition shows like The X-Factor and America's Got Talent.

The Jennifer Hudson Show premieres on September 12. 

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