Ellen DeGeneres hated working on ‘American Idol’ and 8 other ‘Howard Stern’ highlights

09.08.15 2 years ago

Ellen DeGeneres on “The Howard Stern Show”? It happened, friends.

To the surprise of many longtime listeners, the comedian and talk show host sat down for an extended chat on the SiriusXM radio series this morning to discuss the high-and-low lights of her life and career — despite the fact that Howard once slammed her after reports surfaced in 2010 that she had voiced her disapproval of him joining the “American Idol” judges' table.

The two have clearly mended fences in the intervening years, but it was still a little wild to hear DeGeneres shooting the breeze in Studio 69 five years after that extended on-air rant. Check out all the highlights from the wide-ranging discussion below.

1. She envisioned the moment that Johnny Carson would invite her to sit down on his couch (making her the first woman stand-up comedian to do so) years before it actually happened.

“When I finished writing [her signature routine 'A Phone Call to God'], I literally was on that mattress on the floor in that apartment with no money, and had just lost my girlfriend, and I thought, 'I'm gonna do this on Johnny Carson, and he's gonna call me over, and I'm gonna be the first woman in the history of the show to sit down on that couch.' …I saw it. I saw it happening.”

2. She hated working on “American Idol.”

Howard: “Did you hate judging 'American Idol'?”

Ellen: “Yes…that's one of the worst decisions I've made.”

Robin: “Why did you want to do it in the first place?”

Ellen: “As a fan of the shows, it doesn't matter that I sing or I know anything about pitch or anything, I'm like everybody else at home. It's 'American Idol.'…So I thought I'm gonna represent those people at home that have opinions…but then I just thought, like Howard says, I can't break this person's heart. Let somebody else do that.”

3. Bradley Cooper inadvertently ruined her original “selfie” bit at the Oscars.

“The funny thing about that selfie is…the joke was gonna be, I said, 'Meryl, you have broken the record for the amount of Oscars that you've won, let's try to break the record for the retweet of selfies'…so Meryl was in it, and then I was gonna call as many people that would come in. And I really didn't know that so [many people would join]. I mean, Jared Leto jumped from his seat from the other side of the auditorium to get in. He didn't make it in the selfie, but [in] the bigger picture you see his eye.

“…The whole joke for me was, I was planning on asking Meryl to get out to take it so that she wasn't even in the picture. And I kept — if you watch the taped piece — I kept saying, 'Meryl, I can't reach, Meryl.' And Bradley Cooper kept saying 'I'll take it, I'll take it.' And I was like, no, no, no. I was trying to get Meryl out of the seat. The whole joke was that she wouldn't even be in the retweet [record] break, which was the whole point of it. And Bradley took the picture, and it became what it was.”

4. She is baffled by recent “Ellen” guest Caitlyn Jenner's grudging acceptance of gay marriage.

“She really — she still has a judgment about gay marriage. She's saying that she's kind of… and I said, 'you're wanting people to understand and accept you, this is like really confusing to people. And you want us to understand, and that you still have a judgment about gay people and marriage,' and like…and she goes well, she said if the word marriage is that important…and I was like, 'it is, because that's the word.' Like, we want the same thing everybody [else has].

[Howard asks if Caitlyn danced with her during her “Ellen” appearance.]

No, she didn't dance. I don't think she's a dancer. Maybe she didn't want to dance with me cause I'm a lesbian. I really think that she — and she was great, it was a great interview and I…I'm trying to understand it, because I don't fully understand it either. But I also want everyone to be happy, so — but I don't fully understand all of that, but I want her to be happy. Which is what I want for her, for me.”

5. Being named Showtime's Funniest Person in America in 1982 was more curse than blessing.

“What I didn't take into account is the title the Funniest Person in America. People would show up at a strip mall having yogurt next door going 'Wait a minute, the funniest person in America is next door. We gotta go see this.' …I never lived up to that [title].”

And later: “If I would bomb, which I did, in San Francisco. There was a horrible guy in San Francisco — Monty Hoffman, if you're listening, you're a horrible guy. He was so mean. …He would introduce me as the funniest person in America and keep stressing it and stressing it.” [Note: Monty Hoffman died in 2013.]

6. She's actually kind of flattered by all the tabloid reports that claim her marriage with Porti de Rossi is on the rocks.

“We're kind of flattered. Because for awhile no one cared about us. And we thought 'oh, lesbians aren't worthy of tabloid stories.' So now we're kind of flattered that they even care about us.”

7. The powers-that-be behind her daytime talk show forced her to tape interviews with celebrities at her home before launch.

Ellen: “I had to actually have a test interview. I was just reminded of this — Alanis Morrisette reminded me — she had to come to the house and I had to fake interview her and Tom Hanks and, um, god, I'm forgetting who else did it for me.

[…]

Howard: “Who made you do that?”

Ellen: “People that were paying to make this show…they wanted a tape of that to see what kind of conversation I would have. If, you know, if a lesbian would have some kind of thing in common with straight people…it was very weird.”

8. She was overjoyed when Oprah's daytime show went off the air.

Howard: “When Oprah quit her daytime show –“

Ellen: “I celebrated.”

Howard: “I'm not kidding though. You're making a joke, but do you celebrate in a way and say, 'Oh my god, I'm in perfect position? My show is up and running, Oprah leaves, this puts me in a really good spot.'”

Ellen: “Yeah. We had a crossover audience…so I was gonna gain her audience for sure.”

9. She lost her representation after her sitcom was canceled.

Ellen: “I was definitely getting attacked, but I was on such a high of like doing the right thing for me, that I didn't care. But then when the show got canceled, when I lost everything, that's when I was like, 'what am I gonna do?'”

[…]

Howard: “Do your agents start abandoning you?”

Ellen: “Yeah, I didn't have agents. I didn't have anybody.”

Howard: “You mean they wouldn't touch you anymore.”

Ellen: “Yeah.”

Oh, and for the record: she did not turn down the role of Phoebe in “Friends” or the role of Annie Porter (a.k.a. Sandra Bullock) in “Speed.” So, enough of that.

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