Did Ellen DeGeneres Make the Cut in Her 'Idol' Debut?

The talk-show host mixed serious with silly on her premiere appearance on the hit FOX show. We rate how she fared

"We discovered 181 of the nation's best," said Ryan Seacrest in the opening moments of Tuesday's American Idol (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET and Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox). "This will no doubt be the toughest week of their lives, because this is Hollywood Week."

In other words, remember all those maniacally joyful golden ticket winners with the moving personal stories? Tonight alone, nearly half of them were shown the door. (16-year-old Maddy Curtis, the Bluemont, Va., teen with four brothers afflicted with Down syndrome? Gone. Vanessa Wolf, the shaggy blond southerner who said she "was stuck in Vonore, Tennessee"? Still stuck.) When Hollywood Week is over, 157 of them will have been told to leave. Wow, Ellen DeGeneres sure picked a lousy time to arrive!

That's probably why, after all the hype and speculation about what she would bring to the show, DeGeneres' debut was a little muted. Sure, she had a little fun with Simon Cowell: "So this is it, huh?" she teased. "I come on. You leave." But overall, the talk-show host and comedian took her judging responsibilities seriously. With her reading glasses and furrowed brow, she might as well have been listening to Ivy League grad students presenting their dissertations.

Clearly, DeGeneres was all too aware of the dreams that she was dashing with each "no." On an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show set to air today, she admitted that she dreaded sending contestants home. “I don’t like that and I’m not that kind of person -- because they have a name for a person who likes to hurt people’s feelings -- it’s called ‘Simon.’”

But in lighter moments, DeGeneres loosened up and had some fun. "You frightened me," she told Skiibo, the Idol hopeful who passionately paced from side to side during his audition. "I felt like you were stalking us…You were like a leopard." And frankly, she gave poor Skiibo (who didn't make it through) some good parting advice. "But seriously, don't frighten your audience," she said. "There's sexy and then there's scary. It's a fine line."

PHOTOS: Idol Champs vs. Runners-Up: Who's the Bigger Winner?

How do you think Ellen did on her first night of Idol? Chime in below!


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