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American Idol's new season starts tonight

America sets forth on the search for its new Idol this week.

Is there another Adam Lambert, Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson out there?

Some big changes await fans this season: No Paula … you can bid adieu to her incoherent cheerleadering and welcome Ellen DeGeneres, who joins judges Simon, Randy and Kara. Idol debuts its ninth season at 8 p.m. Tuesday on WSVN-Fox 7 with a two-hour premiere followed by another two-hour show Wednesday. Expect much of the same audition fodder … we’ll have to endure the really bad singers for a couple of weeks til the competition really gets going in mid-February.

DeGeneres and Simon Cowell are the cover story of this week’s Entertainment Weekly. The interview touched on the subject of homophobia.

DeGeneres to Cowell: “I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you — I’m gay”, to which Cowell, 50, retorts: “Are you serious? No one told me that. Let me tell you something: we are the least racist, homophobic show in the world. What we do have, thank God, is a sense of humour. I hate political correctness.”

“Well, I don’t go by that rule, where there’s no political correctness at all,” DeGeneres then argues. “If we lived in a world where there was no such thing as racism or homophobia, then obviously there would be no off-limits.”

The interview then touches upon the controversy generated by Idol’s 2009 runner up, Adam Lambert, who was also openly gay.

“Unfortunately, there are people in this world that don’t like other people, and that was one of the issues that was brought up about Adam Lambert. So I’m sensitive to it just because I’ve experienced that kind of discrimination,” says DeGeneres.