By People Staff
August 27, 2008 12:00 AM
Charles Sykes/Rex; Robert Pitts /Landov

Newly selected American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi may have met America’s most famous judges a few days ago but her colleagues say she is already part of the family.

“It’s already a big happy family,” Abdul said Tuesday at the American Idol season 8 auditions held in New York. “We are so happy to have her.”

In fact, DioGuardi has already had quality bonding time with all three judges, says Simon Cowell. “We had a picnic last night. I wore jammies and the girls wore negligees and we kind of broke the ice,” Cowell joked. “We had cake until two in the morning.”

Joking aside, DioGuardi says the judges have welcomed her with open arms–yes, even Simon. “You were nice to me,” DioGuardi said to Cowell on the red carpet about their initial meeting. “You were actually OK.” However, DioGuardi admits it was initially intimidating to join the judges’ panel, especially due to Cowell’s notorious reputation for being Idol‘s resident meanie. “I was a little bit,” DioGuardi confessed, “but I’m going to hold my own.”

Only the future will tell if adding a fourth judge will help boost the show’s sagging ratings, but Abdul likes the change in the group dynamic. “We can try to gang up against the guys,” said Abdul. “I know Kara well and she speaks her mind.”

In fact the pop singer knows DioGuardi very well–the two were once roommates in the late ’90s. “She quit her job and moved out to L.A. and she lived with me for a while,” Abdul told PEOPLE of her old friend. “We had a great time. She’s a great girl.” –Paul Chi

Charles Sykes/Rex; Robert Pitts /Landov