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Ellen DeGeneres' rough 'American Idol' start

"American Idol" judges Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson on Tuesday, Feb 9. (Feb. 9, 2010) Photo Credit: FOX

    As the long “American Idol” pre-season finally comes to an end this week, it’s still too early to suss out how this year’s contestant will fare. But the picture on the top-rated show’s other drama – the judges – is becoming clearer.
    Ellen DeGeneres is a great entertainer, but, so far, her drive to be entertaining sometimes takes away from the show’s focus. The most obvious example came during Hollywood week where she delayed telling contestants whether they made it to the next round while she played around with moving them around the stage.
    It was an amusing bit, though it had to be a bit annoying for those who were awaiting news of their fate.
    Hollywood Week, which is far more contestant-intensive than the rest of the season, marked DeGeneres’ arrival in the “Idol” universe. Maybe she’s still adjusting, but hopefully she’ll remember that the show is supposed to be about discovering new talent, not watching her flaunt hers.
    On the other end of the spectrum, Simon Cowell, who will exit “Idol” after this season, seems more impatient than ever with struggling contestants. It’s that sometimes-harsh bluntness that “Idol” needs and will have a hard time replacing.
    In any case, “Idol” goes from 71 to 24 contestants this week, taking the unusual step of announcing some of the finalists – I’m guessing the more obvious ones – during tonight’s show, right after the contestants’ auditions. The rest of the finalists will be announced tomorrow night.

PHOTOS: Click here to see 'American Idol' contestants and celebrity judges

REWIND: See the winners and top finalists from each season of 'American Idol'

PHOTO: The "American Idol" judges at Hollywood Week by Fox.

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