LOS ANGELES — Ellen Degeneres wants to reach a few personal goals during the fourth season of her Emmy-winning syndicated daytime talk show, which begins Monday.
On the list? Learning Spanish, acquiring basic computer skills and ditching her daily shampoo duties.
Tackling her “life list” is just one new element Degeneres is adding to her hourlong daily talk show. She’s also introducing a new set, a new DJ to inspire her trademark dance moves and a new focus on regular folks rather than celebrities.
Back in her Los Angeles studio after taping a pair of episodes in New York City, the 48-year-old comedian talked with The Associated Press about her plans for the new season and why hosting a talk show is the best job she’s ever had.
AP: Any big changes for the new season?
Degeneres: We’re changing up the format a little bit, nothing drastic, but just trying to make it more kind of freestyle, freeform. It’s not always going to be the same every single day. And not so many celebrities. More human interest and real people and things like that. The life-list thing is new so we’re going to try to accomplish a lot of things on my life list and help the audience accomplish their things on their life lists.
AP: What is a life list?
Degeneres: It’s basically just things you want to accomplish in your life. I talked to Beyonce the other day and she wants to learn how to speak Arabic and she wants to jump out of an airplane. I don’t want to do that. I just don’t want to wash my hair every day.
AP: What is the scariest thing on your list?
Degeneres: I don’t think anything is scary, that’s what’s great about the life list. The scariest thing, honestly, is I don’t want to wash my hair everyday. Everybody thinks it’s ridiculous that I would put that on my life list. It should be on my to-do list. But everybody says your hair is better if you don’t wash it every day.
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Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings
AP:What are you hoping to help audience members with?
Degeneres: Whatever they want to do. This all came from a viewer last season who had a life list because she had cystic fibrosis. She started a life list to accomplish things by the time she was 40 and we helped her accomplish a bunch of those. We thought it was a really great idea.
AP: Is there a dream guest you’d like to interview?
Degeneres: My dream guests are really not so much celebrities. They’re people who are actually interesting and they’re doing something interesting with their lives or had an interesting experience in some way. I really enjoy talking to regular, everyday people.
AP: Are you through with celebrities?
Degeneres: Of course we will have celebrities, but it’s more about just real people talking about life, because that is a constant interest for anybody. Like how do you get through life, how do you deal with stress, how do you contribute with your time here?
Some celebrities, it’s interesting, because they’re fantastic playing a character when somebody is writing the lines for them, and they’re amazing actors, but they’re not as comfortable on television in front of a live audience and just having a conversation and being themselves.
AP: How does doing a talk show compare with doing standup?
Degeneres: Standup is more me talking the entire time. There’s definitely an exchange of energy because that room, that audience, is giving back. I say something and they respond in laughter. But it’s so much better for me to do a talk show. You still have that energy of the audience, and the audience is just as important as that guest that’s sitting next to me. It’s not about me and that guest exchanging energy and talking. It’s about everything that’s going on in that room, and they’re as much a part of the show as anything. I like this better than anything I’ve ever done.
AP: What’s the hardest part of the job?
Degeneres: Everything. It’s just the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it’s the best thing that I’ve ever done. I love this job. I love coming here every day. The whole show is me so I make every decision. It’s just constant decisions, constant writing the monologue every day and working on what’s going to make it special every single day. Then it’s time to do the show itself and I have to be completely present and completely on my toes to be impulsive and spontaneous. It’s just a lot of energy. I get home at the end of the day and I don’t want to talk. All I want to do is lay on the floor and pet my dogs and my cats.
AP: What did you do on your summer vacation?
Degeneres: I did a couple of American Express commercials and I had a couple photo shoots, so it wasn’t as much time (off) as I’d like. We have a ranch and we just went to our ranch and rode horses and gardened and did, you know, nothing.
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