People Staff
February 26, 2010 12:00 AM

As the first week of live competition on American Idol wraps up with surprising results, off-stage drama is receiving its share of buzz, too.

Have judges Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres squabbled since her arrival on the panel this season? A report claimed that things got off to a rocky start when DeGeneres got agitated that Cowell arrived late for her first taping session during Hollywood week, spurring rumors that the chemistry is off between the sharp-tongued Brit and the bubbly talk show host.

Both have denied there’s a rift, but DeGeneres is no longer sitting next to Cowell on the panel. Her hilarious explanation? “Simon wants me,” she said on Tuesday’s first live show, which featured a spoof video of Simon putting his hands on Ellen’s leg.

But Simon answered the rumors seriously on a conference call with reporters last week, saying, “There was no fall out” between him and his costar.

DeGeneres, meanwhile, diffused the speculation with more humor. Summing up her first live week on Idol, she continued the good-natured ribbing. “Anything can happen on live television. Yesterday, Simon had so many buttons open on his shirt he almost had a wardrobe malfunction,” she said in a segment of her talk show set to air Friday. “It’s also interesting to hear the contestants sing live verses watching at home because I didn’t realize … they sound totally different. … You know, in the studio Simon has a Texas accent and he’s the sweetest guy. He’s totally hairless.”

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