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CNN Larry King Live

'Idol' Gives Back

Aired April 19, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, "American Idol's" Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi -- all together for Idol Gives Back.

Plus, we'll take you inside "Idol" for the latest on the competition, the controversy and the quarreling between Ryan and Simon.


RYAN SEACREST, HOST, "AMERICAN IDOL": He's being very sweet tonight for the third time.


KING: Is it for real?


We welcome back Ryan Seacrest, the host of "American Idol" and judges, Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi. We're happy to have them all here with us tonight. We're down to seven contestants on the show.

And here's a look at who's still standing.


KING: This will be a test in hosting a program.


KING: Our guests are Ryan Seacrest, the host of "American Idol;" Simon Cowell, a judge. The other judges are Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi. All are here in this season nine of "American Idol" joining us.


KING: If, during the program, Simon leaves the scene, he will be on the floor.


KING: We will pick him up.

SEACREST: He just -- he just told your -- your stage manager to make sure he was taller than me in the seat. And now he's in my seat.

KING: And we have a surprise announcement. Simon will enter "Dancing With The Stars" next season.


KING: Anyway...


DIOGUARDI: Right. You'll win that.

KING: And of course, we're here to discuss, in the main, the charities that receive money from Idol Gives Back.

But first, just a couple of quick things, Ryan.

How is season nine going?

SEACREST: Season nine is going well, actually. I mean there's been plenty of drama and now we're getting to the good part, where we get down to the final few contestants.

So I don't know, who -- who do you think is a frontrunner, Simon?

KING: Are you happy with the way it's going?

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, "AMERICAN IDOL": Yes. It's going fine. I'm taking...


KING: Why is that funny already?

SEACREST: You know what's funny...

COWELL: Because he's making me laugh.

SEACREST: The fact that the two of us are so close to each other.

KING: There was a reason...


SEACREST: -- this chair (INAUDIBLE)...


SEACREST: We're always joking on our show, right?

And so seconds before we went on the air, he reaches under my seat and pulls it so it drops to the floor. RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE, "AMERICAN IDOL": As in grade school.

KING: You know we know we have a problem when Ellen DeGeneres represents normalcy.


KING: Ellen, how is the show going?

DEGENERES: I still represent normalcy, but I maintain.

How is it going?

This is my best season so far.


KING: Are you enjoying it?

DEGENERES: I am. It's -- you know, I've said this before, it's hard. It's really hard. It -- it's easy to sit at home and have opinions, but when those kids are waiting for you to tell them how they sounded and -- and, you know, sometimes I hear myself go, I liked it and then Simon is going, no you didn't, you know.

But it's like -- it's so hard to -- sometimes you just want to boost them up and give them another shot that (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: It isn't hard for him, though.


KING: Is it hard for you to say, I don't like what you're doing?

COWELL: No, no. No, because, you know, like Ellen said, you know, people are thinking the same thing at home. And I try and do that, you know, which is to -- is to actually say what I would be saying if I was watching the show, which I will be next year, at home. And that's the -- the easiest way of doing it (INAUDIBLE).

KING: How's the year going, Randy?

JACKSON: It's actually going good. I like that he says I -- I actually will be watching at home next year.

SEACREST: Oh, I will be. I'll be reaching (INAUDIBLE).

JACKSON: I'm going to have a phone on the desk. I'm going to call and say, Simon, so what did you really think of that?

COWELL: Like the bat phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, he'll (INAUDIBLE) the bat phone to both of us...


KING: By the way, what are you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- live show.

KING: What are you doing next year?

Are you going to be doing another show?

COWELL: I'm going to do another show, yes.

KING: With you on it?



KING: What's the name of that show?

COWELL: I'm sorry?

KING: What's the name of that show?

COWELL: It's called "The X Factor".

SEACREST: With a lower case X.

KING: Is it on against...

JACKSON: A lower case X.

KING: Is it on against "Idol?"



COWELL: No, no.

KING: All right, Kara, are you enjoying being part of this team?

DIOGUARDI: I'm enjoying all of this...

KING: How did you get picked...

DIOGUARDI: Just watching all of the...

KING: How did you become part of this?

DIOGUARDI: I don't know. I'm trying to figure it out.


DIOGUARDI: No, no, no. I...


DIOGUARDI: You know, I -- writing songs for big artists, that's how I got on this whole thing. And I'm having a good time. You know, I'm just happy that it's -- it's not my first year again, because that was pretty rough.

COWELL: And you didn't like last year?

DIOGUARDI: I did, but I was nervous, you know, the rolling of the eyes.

KING: Why are ratings down a little, Ryan?



KING: Is that a natural attrition?

SEACREST: You're asking me that question?

Why are they down a little bit?

Well, I think one...

KING: Well, everything is down a little bit.

SEACREST: I think we are -- you know, we're into our ninth season. I think all of the television, as you said, is down a little bit. There's more fragmentation. There are more choices than ever.

But at that -- this phase of the show, traditionally, we take a little bit of a dip and it usually heads back up.

KING: Why are you yawning?

COWELL: Well, he sounds so pompous when you talk sometimes.

why are you -- you don't talk like that in real life.

SEACREST: Can I ask you a question?


SEACREST: We're on international television...

COWELL: We are?

SEACREST: -- and your shirt is open so far...

DIOGUARDI: That's what I thought...

SEACREST: That it's actually embarrassing to the studio.


COWELL: No. It's OK.

KING: He believes he's Harry Belafonte.



COWELL: OK. Carry on. Carry on with your...


COWELL: -- the fragmentation part.

SEACREST: We've taken -- we've taken a little dip.

What would you say?

Why would you say we've taken it?

KING: Well, it has taken a little dip.

Is there any reason?

You're the expert on television.

COWELL: No, I'm not. It goes down. It goes up.

I think, you know, how many years we've done this for?

JACKSON: This is the ninth season.

COWELL: We're doing fine.

KING: No complaints?

COWELL: No complaints.

SEACREST: We still have 20 plus million people watching every night, you know?

KING: We've got lots to talk about. And there -- there's some wonderful things this group does, the main reason they're here tonight. And we'll talk about it when we come back.



DIOGUARDI: The money that's being contributed here in Angola has gone to 300,000 bed nets. And those 300,000 bed nets have saved close to a million lives. For $10, you can actually make a huge difference.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Malaria no more. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The future of Africa is right here.



KING: We're back with Ryan, Simon, Ellen, Randy and Kara, talking about Idol Gives Back.

Wednesday night on Fox, five charities -- and many people around the world are going to benefit -- Children's Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More, Save The Children and the United Nations Foundation. If you want more information, go to

How did this idea start, Ryan?

SEACREST: I think this was Simon Fuller's idea, who created "American Idol." And we've done this now. This is our third time doing the show. And it's raised over $140 million for different charities in the U.S. and around the world, which I believe is more than any other television event.

KING: How does it work, Randy?

JACKSON: Basically, I mean we all go out to different areas and, you know, the charities that we support with the show. And I think that over the -- the last year, we didn't do one, because we felt it wasn't really right with the economy being where it was. So this year we brought it back. And I think it's -- I think we're probably happy that we brought it back.


KING: You go and visit the people you help?

JACKSON: Yes. I went down to Mississippi. You saw Kara there in Africa. Simon went to Arizona.

DEGENERES: I went this morning to Monrovia to the food bank to Feeding America.


SEACREST: We -- I went to Seattle to interview Bill Gates and Melinda Gates about what they're doing globally. And we, of course, two years ago, went to Kenya together.

JACKSON: We went to Kenya, yes.

KING: All right. Let's break them down. Children's Health Fund, what is that?

SEACREST: The Children's Health Fund, which one is -- is that the one that you went...

JACKSON: No, that's not what I did. But I think Children's Health Fund was the...

DIOGUARDI: That's the singer/songwriter Paul Simon.

JACKSON: The singer/songwriter Paul Simon.

DIOGUARDI: He founded it. And it helps for pediatric care.

KING: That's one of the groups.

SEACREST: Right. And then you've got Malaria No More, obviously, which is a big one. That's one that (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: I thought we wiped out malaria.


SEACREST: We eradicated it here, but not in other parts of the country -- or other parts of the world. But it can be eradicated. And that's what's amazing. I think that Bill and Melinda are 100 percent behind the eradication of it and -- and have the resources to do it.

KING: What's Feeding America?

DEGENERES: Feeding America is something I just learned about recently. And I went down this morning. David Arquette is involved. I think he's the chairman.


DEGENERES: It was called Second Harvest. They renamed it Feeding America. And it's -- it's -- in the last few years it's amazing that you -- you kind of -- assume that the people that are hungry in our country are people who are homeless. And that is not the case.

With the recession, there are a lot of people who don't have family. This guy is an eighth grade math teacher and his wife stays home and takes care of their three kids, all under the age of five. And an amazing family. And he's a teacher and can't afford to feed his family. So he has a roof over his head, but can't feed them. So he gets food from there.

KING: Is Save The Children the Save The Children we all know about?

DIOGUARDI: Yes, education and literacy...

JACKSON: Yes. And literacy. That's the one that I did...

KING: You send in still a small amount of money and they?


JACKSON: Yes. I went down to Mississippi, because, you know, one in five kids in America are poor. So it's a grave statistic. And also, literacy is a big thing in this program that I did with Morgan Freeman down in Mississippi and the surgeon general. Because these kids, it is just -- it's really crazy, Larry. I mean we discovered years ago, even on our own show, "American Idol," that literacy was still a problem in America. You would have thought that one of the richest countries in the world, literacy -- I mean, you know, we have all the diseases, but literacy -- just learning how to read. So we went down and visited that with Save The Children.

SEACREST: Yes, I think when we were first talking about -- we started talking about doing this, Simon, you said it was -- and we all agreed it was important to have the funds benefit, obviously, all of the problems. And we have a lot of them right here in our own backyard, as well as abroad and around, around the globe...

KING: Was yours...


KING: Was yours, Kara, United Nations Foundation?

DIOGUARDI: Malaria No More.

KING: Oh, yours was malaria. And mine was kind of different then, because I went back to see what the funds had been actually doing. There was one orphanage that we built rooms for people to live in.

KING: And what was in Arizona, Simon?

COWELL: It was a mobile health clinic. They travel. They -- they bring, just like a mobile hospital down. If they didn't have the hospital there, they'd have to travel like three or four hours. So I met the doctors, kids.

KING: How do you raise the money?

COWELL: Well, basically, through the people who watch the show. They -- they donate.


KING: The donations are done right through the program (INAUDIBLE)?

SEACREST: No. We started something a little different this year, where we could have people who are watching the show a couple of weeks out from the special that's Wednesday night donate themselves individually. And then, of course, throughout the telecast on Wednesday night -- it's a two hour broadcast. Throughout the performances we'll have people be able to call in or text in for donations.

KING: Now there are performances Wednesday night, right?

SEACREST: Oh, yes.

KING: But there's emphasis on the charities?

SEACREST: Oh, yes.

DEGENERES: Oh, yes. Yes. That's where a lot of money is raised that -- I mean I hosted two years ago, I think?

SEACREST: That's right. That's right. That's right.

DEGENERES: And there was a lot of money raised.

KING: That's fantastic.

That's -- you watch for that Wednesday night, as America -- as one of the great things people who are successful should do and "Idol" does it in spades -- Idol Gives Back.

Who's performing on the big show on Wednesday?

Find out after the break.


KING: We'll be discussing other aspects of one of the most successful shows in American television history, "American Idol."

A couple more things -- and we'll go to it later, on the Idol turns and helps Back.

What -- or tell us some of the guest artists coming up Wednesday.

SEACREST: We're going to do a show...

KING: It's a two hour show?

SEACREST: It's a two hour live event, live show. We're going to do it from two locations -- our set and also the Pasadena Civic Center.

And so I'll be hosting from our set and on our stage. And then Queen Latifah will be at the other stage. We've got Sir Elton John performing. We've got to keep performing. Carrie Underwood is performing, Mary J. Blige. Annie Lennox is scheduled to perform, but I understand that she's -- you were telling me about this earlier. She may be stuck Europe.

DEGENERES: She was supposed to...

SEACREST: She can't get here.

DEGENERES: Yes, Annie Lennox was supposed to be on my show tomorrow. She can't...

KING: Oh, with the volcano?


DEGENERES: She can't get out of Europe.

JACKSON: OK. Yes. Yes.

SEACREST: So it's -- you know, it's an all star list of -- of acts.

KING: And are there contestants at the same time or is it just the acts?

SEACREST: Well, it's -- interestingly enough, it's an elimination night on "American Idol." And so...


SEACREST: And so while we're going through all of this and talking about very serious things and trying to raise money for all these wonderful organizations, we've also got to eliminate contestant at the end of all of it, which is always tough.

KING: Oh, that's hard.

JACKSON: That's hard, yes.

KING: All right, let's get into some specifics.

First, Ellen, what's surprised you the most about being on this show?

DEGENERES: How warm everyone is. I didn't expect a warm...

KING: Why do you like at Simon when you say that?


KING: Are they congenial, really?

DEGENERES: Yes. No. No, no, no. We're having -- we're having a great time. It's -- it really is fun and I'm sad to see him go. I really am.

You know, what -- what surprises me most is -- is how hard it is. I -- first of all, I think Hollywood week, I started off much more strict and just kind of no, no, no.

And then you start to get to know them and it's harder. But I do

feel like you want to pull more out of them. You want to get a little more personality. You want to see that it factor -- that kind of star quality that everybody is looking for. And when you don't see it, it's frustrating, because when they're singing, there's nothing wrong with it. But it's just -- and finding a new way each time to say didn't like it or did like it.

KING: Simon, how is Ellen doing?

I'll be a critic again. SEACREST: And she's right next to you.

KING: How's she doing?

COWELL: She's doing very well.

KING: What -- what makes a good judge?

COWELL: Just saying don't over think it, you know and actually not being afraid to be in the minority. It's very easy just to go along with everybody else. And there was something that happened last week where you were just completely on your own. And I thought it would be easier to take the opposite view.

And everything is subjective. You know, some people like it. Potatoes, potatoes.

DEGENERES: Banana, banana.

JACKSON: Tomatoes, tomatoes.

DIOGUARDI: Frustrated, frustrated.

KING: Let's call the whole thing off.

Hey, this is Ellen's first season as a judge.

Let's take a look at her in action.



DEGENERES: The first time I took a shot of tequila, I didn't know if I'd like it or not. Then I took another. And then I took another. Then I took another. And I really enjoyed it.


DEGENERES: This is a very horny song, but there's a lot of -- a lot of horns in it.


DEGENERES: A lot of horns in it. A whole lot of...


DEGENERES: -- there's a lot of horns in it. And you were smiling more. And I just felt so much more confident. Even when that guy got separated from his parade, it didn't even -- I don't know. I'm so sorry, sir. We'll help you.


DEGENERES: You didn't even get rattled by that guy showing up.


KING: Kara, I gather she is at also, Kara, the panel's comedienne?

DIOGUARDI: Oh, for sure.

KING: How do you like judging?

DIOGUARDI: I like it. I like it a lot this year. I do. Because I'm kind of morphing my part -- KING: As opposed to last year?

DIOGUARDI: Yes. I wasn't used to being on television and speaking in 30 sound -- you know, second sound bites. And this year, I'm more concentrating on the kids and not worrying so much about what I'm doing.

KING: You're an original.

How do they rank, this group?

JACKSON: I think they're doing really, really doing well. I think Ellen has really found her spot. And I think -- I like that she's been able to put some of that comedy in there, because I mean she be cracking me up so. And I think Kara is doing great. And I thought she did good the first season, too, even though you felt it was a little -- but it's good. I think you've got to call it as you see it. Simon hit it on the head, you know, you're not -- you can't be afraid, because we get booed all during the contest so...

DEGENERES: Yes. But you...

SEACREST: We do get booed.


DEGENERES: I've never been booed before.


SEACREST: -- dancing and cheering and everything else.

DEGENERES: It's funny, actually.

JACKSON: The boos are something else.

DEGENERES: Actually, you boo yourself first.

KING: We're going to...

DEGENERES: You go, I'm going to boo myself.

KING: We're going to go to a break. This could relate to Simon, when we come back. And a brilliant critique in yesterday's "New York Times." The critic, Mr. Usherwood, writing about the show "Lend Me A Tenor," was faced with a dilemma.

What do you do when you hate a show, you don't think it's funny, you don't like it at all and the audience is raving?

What do you do?

We'll ask Simon what do you do, next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What show is that?



COWELL: Now, I think the reason you got it right -- and I don't want to take all the credit for it -- is that you were absolutely leaning in the direction of which I hinted at very strongly, which is it's more country.


JACKSON: No. No. Not even close.


JACKSON: Not even close. Not even close.

COWELL: That's shat -- that's what I could hear. I could hear that (INAUDIBLE)...



JACKSON: Yes, come on. That's right.


JACKSON: We're doing some R&B joint, y'all. That's right.



KING: All right, Simon, is it a dilemma when you can't stand -- I don't want to say can't stand -- you just don't think someone is very good and the audience is going berserk?

COWELL: Oh, I don't care anymore. I'm so used to that. I mean I'm hearing something completely different.

KING: But do you say to yourself, maybe I'm wrong?



SEACREST: Oh, Larry, Larry...

DIOGUARDI: Definitely not. Definitely not.



DIOGUARDI: He's always right.

COWELL: I mean, the point is, somebody could go up there and whistle and the audience would go mental. It's just one of those things. No, I...

KING: Have there been times when -- when the audience has been kind of warm and you've loved them, the opposite?

COWELL: That -- but then I'm also right.

KING: So you're never wrong?


JACKSON: Exactly.


KING: So you're a perfect critic?

SEACREST: But it is -- it is fun to watch, though, when -- when any of them or Simon gives a contestant the advice the week before then the next week they listen to that advice and (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Then he crushes them.

SEACREST: And then he loves to sit up in his chair, like I...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: see, I told you to listen to me, not Kara.

KING: Isn't it hard with your image -- you're America's afternoon now -- to knock someone?

DEGENERES: Am I America's afternoon?

KING: I just gave you that title.



DEGENERES: I want to be their entire day. No, you know, it's hard. They're on my show the next day, too. And I -- and I don't like hurting people's feelings. I know what it's like to stand on stage and to be judged. And -- and so it's hard, yes. It's hard. KING: One aspect of the season's "Idol" that's got a lot of fans buzzing is the back and forth between Ryan and Simon. It's become regular already.

Let's take a look.

DIOGUARDI: That will be the rest of the hour.


COWELL: Sometimes yes; sometimes no.

SEACREST: That is a pathetic answer.

COWELL: If I would be allowed to continue, Ryan. Very boring and there are a lot of people in your...


COWELL: Did I -- did I see Ryan (INAUDIBLE) in the background?

DEGENERES: Yes, I did. He did.

COWELL: That, by the way, was beautiful, that part. I mean Simon is confused as to what artist you want to be.

COWELL: Is that OK with you right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred percent. I approve.

SEACREST: And well said.

COWELL: Thank you.

JACKSON: This is between you two now. I am out and safe.


KING: OK. We've got this question posted to LARRY KING LIVE Facebook page: "I just have to know, is the attitude between Ryan and Simon for ratings or is there real tension there?"

COWELL: Ask Ryan. He's under orders.

KING: Ohhhh.


KING: Ryan, lay it out.

SEACREST: I'm under orders to grovel and to bow and to be in awe.

KING: Because -- is he the boss?


SEACREST: He did this show in England before any of us did.

KING: Right.

SEACREST: So he's...

KING: So it's his baby?

SEACREST: It's his baby. I mean I'll...

KING: So you, therefore, bow to him?

SEACREST: I'm -- I'm sorry?

KING: Bow to him. I don't mean bow.

SEACREST: Servant, grovel, bow, in awe.

KING: Yes.

SEACREST: I mean, honestly, there's a great deal of sport in that. I think that the two of us have fun (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Do you like Simon?

SEACREST: Well, absolutely. I actually have learned a lot from him.

KING: Would you call him a friend?

SEACREST: I would.

KING: Simon, would you say the same?



JACKSON: There we go.

KING: Would you call Ryan a friend?

COWELL: Ninety-nine percent of the time.


KING: What annoys you about him?

COWELL: That's something off camera.

SEACREST: Well just one example.

COWELL: No, we get on fine. We get on fine. It's -- it's right that it's sport.

KING: Is it part of the shtick?

SEACREST: It's part of the...


COWELL: No, there are times...

KING: You never hesitate (INAUDIBLE)...

COWELL: No, there are times...

KING: -- see you hesitate.

COWELL: I've got to be honest with you -- you didn't show the clip where I'm sitting there doing the show and suddenly, like having a little wasp or something in the room. Something comes over and stings you and it's like, where did that come from?


COWELL: And I'm talking to a contestant. And in the meantime, it's like buzz, buzz, buzz, sting.

And it's like, what is your problem?

And I said it to you (CROSSTALK)...

COWELL: -- I said what is your problem?

KING: Do you see a problem with the two of them...

DIOGUARDI: Do I see...

KING: Kara?

DIOGUARDI: Well, I see problems with them both, but not together in the way they...

KING: Do they have a problem with each other?

COWELL: Let me ask you a question, who is the one who instigates it, me or madam?

DIOGUARDI: Well, all right, you know, the first time I thought it was a joke.

KING: Madam?


DIOGUARDI: I did think that you guys were joking. And then the second time I saw it, I thought, oh, no way, this isn't a joke...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this could...

DIOGUARDI: Because they get into each other's space. (CROSSTALK)

DIOGUARDI: Do you know what? They're like -- they're like older brother, younger brother.


DIOGUARDI: There's just a bit of this they love each other...

SEACREST: I mean I wouldn't put the word much in front of (INAUDIBLE).


KING: Why did you call him madam?

COWELL: Because he's like a madam.

KING: Well, what does -- what does that mean?

JACKSON: Who's the -- who's the instigator?

COWELL: Let's go back to that moment.

KING: No. I heard him say madam.

SEACREST: I did, too.


COWELL: Do you know what, Larry, you should just come join us on the show -- (CROSSTALK)

COWELL: -- because what you like is to stir the pot, Larry.

KING: Well, I'm going to (INAUDIBLE) the last week, right?


SEACREST: Yes. I want him to come on and do the vicious "American Idol" at the top of the show.

JACKSON: You've got to do it, Larry. So let's -- can you...


SEACREST: Can you do it?

SEACREST: Right into three. Right into three.

KING: This is "American Idol"."


JACKSON: Sold. And then you can spar with home the rest of the hour. KING: Do you notice tension between him and him?

DEGENERES: No, it's not tension. They really are like brothers. I think that Ryan likes to see what he can do to push Simon's buttons. and Simon likes to see what he can do to push Ryan's buttons. And they do it to each other. That's just the way they play.

JACKSON: Siblings.

SEACREST: And to add to it, Simon is the master at pressing everyone's buttons.


I mean, Kara, true or false? He constantly presses your buttons.

DIOGUARDI: He does press my button, but now I know his shtick.

Now, now --

SEACREST: You've tickled her button once.

DIOGUARDI: Stop it, right now.

JACKSON: It tickles all the buttons.

DIOGUARDI: I have a --


KING: Do you have a brother?

SEACREST: I do not have a brother.

KING: Do you have a brother?

SEACREST: I have a much older brother.

KING: Do you take them on?

JACKSON: Simon, has brothers, yes.

KING: Do you have a brother?


KING: All right, do you take them on and are -- you squabble a lot when you were kids?

COWELL: No, they're much more respectful.


KING: On that note, more on "Idol Gives Back." You can even start donating now, right on this program. Right on this program, you can start donating. And Simon is getting married. How did love change him?




ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your judges, Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi, and Simon Cowell. And your host, Ryan Seacrest.


KING: We're back. And by the way, you can start contributing to "Idol Gives Back" right now. Just go to Do it right now and start pitching in.

Let's ask some individual questions.

Ellen, you did the appeal for Feeding America with David Arquette. Did you work with one family?

DEGENERES: No, I actually went to where they give the food out and the warehouse where the food comes in and learned about -- it's amazing. I mean, what I learned, which was scary, there's so many families and children that are malnourished. And that is, like, the most important time for us to be nourishing our brain. It changes the architecture of our brain if we're malnourished, even for a short time. It affects everything. So if kids aren't fed, which is what Feeding America is doing right now, it's impacting all of us.

KING: Are you surprised at what you saw?

DEGENERES: Yes. Also, the volunteers. It not just -- $10 gets 90 pounds of food. It's a small amount of money. We're not asking for people to donate amount will help a lot of people.

KING: Do you divide it among the judges, Ryan?

SEACREST: It's divided up, yes. It is divided domestically and internationally. We also felt it was important being "American Idol." But we've got problems all over the place.

KING: Simon, what was your experience with the Children's Health Fund in Arizona personally?

COWELL: When you actually meet the doctors, meet the kids, meet the families, you know, it's -- it's important because you actually see where the money has gone. And we actually meet real people. It makes a huge difference. And they were nice kids.

KING: Are you surprised that that exists in this richest of countries? SIMON: We said, from day one, we would only do this if the money went to American charities as well? You can't do a show called "American Idol" and send all the money overseas when you've got problems in your own country or in America. When you actually go around the country -- and I've been, New York, L.A., all sorts of places, Arizona. Big, big, big problems. And this has made a huge difference. .

KING: We'll be back and get Randy and Kara's thoughts too. Don't go away.


KING: We are back with Ryan, Simon, Ellen, Randy and Kara, talking about "Idol Gives Back" this Wednesday on FOX. They're going to raise millions for five charities. Many people in need around the world. Children's Health Fund, Feeding America, Save the Children, Malaria No More and the United Nations foundations are this season's beneficiaries. For more information, go to

All right, Randy, you're auctioning off something as part of this?

JACKSON: Yes. I did a Save the Children thing in Mississippi with Morgan Freeman about literacy. Kara and I -- we are all personally auctioning off various things with this. And Kara and I are auctioning off singing lessons, to the highest bidder, a vocal lesson to the highest bidder.


KING: From Randy Jackson.

JACKSON: Me and Kara. Come on.

Larry, come on.

SEACREST: Randy, do you sing?


COWELL: And Kara, you're teaching someone how to sing?



And I know it won't be you.

KING: Why? Are you making fun of them?

COWELL: No, no.


JACKSON: No, she has a beautiful voice. DIOGUARDI: Oh, all right.

KING: So how does it work in association with your charity?

DIOGUARDI: How does it work in association with -- well, this is just another way to raise more money. Randy and I are going to actually define pitchy in the vocal lessons.

JACKSON: Yes, finally.

DIOGUARDI: We're going to tell people what it is.

JACKSON: Pitchy, the definition.


JACKSON: Pitchy. Pitchy.

KING: Spell it.



KING: Is that your pitch?


JACKSON: It means you're between keys. I'm not leading on the note.

KING: Give me an example. Sing a little something.


JACKSON: I'm not landing on the note.

DEGENERES: Kara, do a pitchy sound.


KING: Ellen, are you pitchy?

DEGENERES: I can do pitchy very well.



DIOGUARDI: That's pitchy.


COWELL: I can do bitchy.


DIOGUARDI: No, I can do bitchy.

DEGENERES: I can do bitchy, too.

JACKSON: You said Ryan did that.

COWELL: I don't think that.

KING: We have this tweeted to King's Things. Ask why the "Idol" people giving back concept is important to them and what they do personally.

SEACREST: I think it's important because we've got a television show that's viewed four channel leaf all these years by a lot of people. And I think that when we can do something good at this level, you can create impact. That's scary, you can create impact. And personally, we donate. I know that we donate our paychecks that night for the episode. So we do the series that night for free and donate each of our paychecks. Some of which are different than others. So some -- so some --


KING: That's a terrific gesture.

That's great of you.

SEACREST: So in addition to --

KING: I imagine yours is the largest?

DIOGUARDI: You don't have to imagine. It's true.


KING: Ellen makes more than you.

DEGENERES: Yes, I make a whole lot more.


I think that's what we do on that night. But in general, all of us donate to various charities. Whenever you have a platform like this -- from my show, we've raised a lot of money for Katrina. We have raised money for breast cancer awareness. Everybody does something. But when you have an opportunity to reach this many eyeballs and you can point out situations like Feeding American, Malaria No More, then it's important to do it.

KING: You're asking everybody this week to sing inspirational songs? Have you suggested any or is it up to them.

DIOGUARDI: We can't -- we can't really suggest songs.

KING: How does it work, what music they pick? Can they pick anything they want?

DIOGUARDI: They have to.

JACKSON: Yes, it's really up to them. They choose. It's part of the competition.

DIOGUARDI: Which makes it difficult because you want to give them your advice and you want to help them, but you can't. They have to show you their own vision for themselves.

KING: But the work you do is wonderful. Being in Africa, that must have been wonderful.

DIOGUARDI: Oh, it was an incredible experience.

JACKSON: Was that your first time?

DIOGUARDI: Yes. That's what I love about this show, it's opened up my personal life up to so much. and to think you can actually give back and make a difference. And I've seen what "Idol" does.

JACKSON: I think, Larry, as much as this show and these people have given to us, it's the right thing to do, right?


KING: Everybody lucky enough to be in this business, just love to give back.

JACKSON: To me, you must give back. It's what you have to do.

SEACREST: You see a child, whether the child is from Florida or the child is from somewhere in Kenya, and they're the same. They're kids.

KING: Simon, truthfully, is it going to be hard to leave?

COWELL: No. No, it's not. I been there years.

KING: You want to elaborate a little? It's just not going to be hard to leave?

COWELL: No. Genuinely, I've had the best time of my life. I'm very grateful. As you say, lucky. But you always know when it's the right time to go. And I'll look back and say we've had a great time. And I always promised myself I wanted to leave and be able to say that, and say, you know, that.

KING: Do you expect to miss it?


JACKSON: Oh, this is a good one, Larry.

KING: That's why I do this show.


COWELL: I'll probably miss it at times, yes. But, you know, you can't keep doing the same thing year after year after year. You can't.

DEGENERES: No, Larry, you know that.


JACKSON: Come on, Larry.



KING: More about other great auction items for "Idol Gives Back."

And Adam Lambert has been a mentor for this season's contestants. How he's helping them.



KING: We'll ask about that ahead.

SEACREST: We're going to celebrate 20 years, 20 years.

KING: 25.

JACKSON: 25 years.


KING: We're back. What a night. "American Idol Giving Back."

Let's give it back to New York. Anderson Cooper will host "AC: 360" at the top of the hour.

What's up tonight?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, AC: 360: Besides the fact that Ryan is tweeting while you're speaking, we have breaking news --


SEACREST: I'm tweeting to AC.

COOPER: Oh, is that what you're doing?

We have breaking news tonight on "360." The worst kinds of news for hundreds and thousands of travelers stranded by the volcano erupting in Iceland. Look at these pictures. A new ash cloud has been belching skyward, potentially posing a new threat to air travel. We'll have a live report from the ground in Iceland. And the latest on where this new cloud is moving.

Also tonight, the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. We're ticking up close to the rise and rhetoric by groups on the political fringe, groups that question whether 9/11 was a government conspiracy, President Obama's citizenship, even whether FEMA is setting up political internment camps.

Also tonight, "Crime and Punishment," a popular principal, beloved by his students, committed to turning his school around, tonight he is dead, a victim of murder. Who killed this inspirational leader and why? Police hold new clues and they hope that some new clues hold the answer. We'll take a look at that story in "Crime and Punishment."

Larry, all of that is at the top of the hour at about 11 minutes from now.

KING: That's 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific with Anderson Cooper.

Last season's "Idol" runner-up, Adam Lambert, performed on the show last week and mentioned the contestants. Here's a sample.


SEACREST: The top nine took over the stage at Viva Elvis and Adam joined them for a little more conversation about the king and his rock 'n roll legacy.


Every week, keep it fresh and surprise people.


LAMBERT: Got it.


LAMBERT: Smile a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED CONTESTANT: Yes, I know. I've got to smile more.

LAMBERT: Playful, playful. I think that's kind of the vibe of the song.

UNIDENTIFIED CONTESTANT: I've already been compared to you, which is a huge honor.

LAMBERT: I heard, yes.



KING: You want to pick up now?

You like that idea? It's a good idea what Adam is doing?


KING: Mentoring.

COWELL: He'd already done it.

SEACREST: He did it on the show.

As a mentor, he was great.

DIOGUARDI: He was great.

SEACREST: He was fantastic.

JACKSON: He's really good.

KING: All right, in addition to the TV show, "Idol Gives Back" has an online auction going. The highest bid, so far, is for a meet and greet with Simon at the "Idol" season finale. Second highest bid is for an "Ellen DeGeneres Show" VIP package and autographed sneakers.

Who make the most money for this auction?

COWELL: I just want to say that I did make that bid to meet and greet him backstage. So whoever would like to outbid me.


JACKSON: It was me. He and I made the bid.

KING: Give me an example. What kind of bids are you getting?


DIOGUARDI: It doesn't seem like we're getting any bids.



COWELL: Meet me, singing lessons with Kara.


SEACREST: By the way, Simon listed his as meet me for the last ever opportunity on "American Idol."

JACKSON: Oh, yes.


JACKSON: Then we don't feel so bad.

SEACREST: Well, you're giving away a bunch of things to your show and sneakers and things like that. DEGENERES: Any tennis shoes. I bid for them myself because I think they're good looking tennis shoes.


JACKSON: What if you're a size four?


JACKSON: Tennis shoe? Any size?

DEGENERES: I'm a size eight.


DEGENERES: Eight and a half, I think.

KING: Do you were those new twisters? What do they call them? Where they build up your height and your walk and your --

SEACREST: Shape-up.

DEGENERES: No, I don't have those.

KING: You where shape-ups?

COWELL: Switzers (ph).

KING: Switzers (ph), yes.

Do you wear them?

JACKSON: I don't.


What are you looking at?

KING: What are you staring at, Simon? I asked if you wear sneakers.


KING: Hold on.


KING: Something's happened to Simon.


JACKSON: He's distracted.

KING: He's gone human.

(LAUGHTER) JACKSON: Well, I'll show it to you.

KING: You just signed a new contract for this show.

SEACREST: I did. I just signed a new deal.

KING: How long?

SEACREST: I have this season, plus two more seasons to host "American Idol.

KING: How long are you committed?

DEGENERES: Five years.

KING: You have more than him?

DEGENERES: Yes, and I'm going to be the last one in there. I think -- I think there's nobody --


KING: How long are you in there for?

JACKSON: I have a couple, two. Two more.

KING: And you?

DIOGUARDI: I have a few.


SEACREST: Wait. What's -- what's a few.

KING: Wait a minute. He's leaving. You have the few. You have a couple. You have five.

SEACREST: I have two more.

COWELL: I don't need any.

KING: You are the low man on the totem pole.

COWELL: I'm the low man?

JACKSON: No, I'm the low man. I only have two. This one and the next one.

SEACREST: Wait. We're confusing ourselves.

DIOGUARDI: You only have two? You only have two?

SEACREST: I signed three. We're in the midst of one. Then I have two more.

KING: Through 2013. (CROSSTALK)

COWELL: Just to be clear, Ellen is the only one with guaranteed five years out of all of you. We're out of order here.

JACKSON: Exactly.


KING: Do you feel hanging by a thread?

COWELL: She's the newest.

KING: The newest --

SEACREST: Do you need a sidekick every few years?

DEGENERES: I don't know, everyone is leaving. I came on --

DIOGUARDI: Randy, now what's going to happen to us?


JACKSON: I don't know. No.

KING: We are going to take a break and be back.

JACKSON: No breaks. No breaks.


KING: We have one more moment, one break more.


Donate now at More with your guests, our closing segment next.


KING: Elliott Yamin was a finalist in season five of "American Idol." He went with Kara to Angola in February as part of "Idol Gives Back." Check out our interview with Elliott at

There were a bunch of tweets to King's Things from people who wanted to know if there's any chance Paula Abdul will come back to "Idol" with him going.

SEACREST: We should ask the boss.

COWELL: Where is he?

KING: Are you still the boss of the show even after you leave?

COWELL: No, no, no.

KING: Any chance Paula --

SEACREST: You have been doing this longer than any of us.

KING: Would she come back?

COWELL: No, I don't think she will.

KING: Because she wouldn't be asked or she wouldn't accept?

COWELL: I think she's moved on. You know, I know a few things what Paula's up to, and you'll hear something fairly soon.

SEACREST: How about now?

COWELL: It's not my business to say it. It's her business.

KING: You never worked with Paula, right?

DEGENERES: No, no. Paula left before.

KING: When you watched the show, did you like her?

DEGENERES: Yes. I mean, I was a fan of the show, so I watched and enjoyed -- I enjoyed her as much as everybody else.

KING: Randy, do you miss her?

JACKSON: Yes. I think she's mad cool. She's very interesting. I think she's great. She was great for the show, because she was so unpredictable, which I loved.

KING: Kara?

DIOGUARDI: Yes. Paula was a big part of my career early on. She gave me a break in the beginning.

KING: She sort of brought you in, right?


KING: What about you?

SEACREST: She's still around. He sounds so sad. She's still with us.

DIOGUARDI: I know. I know.


SEACREST: Of course, I miss her. I've know her for quite a long time as well. I used to play her ka-singles when I was a kid.

KING: Ka-singles.

SEACREST: Ka-singles. The ka-singles of --

KING: All right, prediction from all of you. We'll start from the man leaving.

How long is "American Idol" going to remain a hit, do you think?

COWELL: A long time. I genuinely do believe that. I've always said that.

KING: Why?

COWELL: Because it's so embedded now. And I think it will run 20, 30 years.

KING: That long?

COWELL: Well, how long have you been on air for?

KING: 25 years, June 1.

COWELL: Well, there you go.

KING: Longest running show in the history of television.

COWELL: There you go.

KING: Same host. That will be different.


Well, Ryan could be the same host in 25 years.



KING: Ellen, how long do you think this show has legs?

DEGENERES: You know, I think there are people that give up on it and say, oh, I'm not watching it, and then they watch the next season. So I think there's a constant audience and then there's an audience that goes in and out. Then you get a new audience. I think it's a great show, a fun formula, and you get sucked in. It depends. I think some years it's better than others depending on the contestants.

SEACREST: And one of the great things about it is, families can watch it together. So a dad that doesn't have anything in common to talk with their daughters with, can sit with the daughters and have a conversation.

KING: And it's competition.

COWELL: Well, should we do pets?


KING: You can watch with your pets.

KING: It has everything you want. It has competition. JACKSON: Something for everybody to like.

SEACREST: And it's a family show.

DIOGUARDI: As long as there's talent, there's going to be "American Idol."

COWELL: And hope. And hope.

DIOGUARDI: And you're right.

KING: How about its imitators?

JACKSON: There are a lot of imitators, but that's kind of flattery at this point, right?

KING: It's nothing new. There's always been a talent show. Major Bows (ph) on radio.

JACKSON: Yes, there's always been a talent show. But I think "Idol's" definitely got legs to go on for quite a while longer, I think.

DIOGUARDI: It's all about finding talent. The as long as there's talent out there.

KING: You brought it here right.

COWELL: I was on the show. I was on the show in England.

KING: Really, did you know it would make it big?

COWELL: No. I genuinely didn't. When we first filmed it here, I thought we would last three or four weeks. I honestly thought that. And I think everybody else thought that as well. So, you know, to be here nine years later, I genuinely wasn't --

KING: Do you have any goal, Ryan, this year on "Idol Gives Back." Any figures?

SEACREST: To beat last year. I think --

KING: What was last year?

JACKSON: Two years ago.

SEACREST: Two years ago. But the total has been $140 million, so if we can keep on track with adding the right percentage to that, would be fantastic.

KING: We can do nothing but salute you all. It's an honor knowing you all. And hosting you all tonight has been terrific. And I thank you all very much.

COWELL: Thanks, Larry.

SEACREST: Thanks for having us.

DEGENERES: Thanks, Larry.

DIOGUARDI: Thanks, Larry.

JACKSON: Thank you.

SEACREST: As always, we appreciate it.

KING: That's Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi.

Don't forget, donate now at

Sarah Silverman is here tomorrow night. Anderson Cooper is here right now with "AC 360" -Anderson?

COOPER: Larry, thanks.