Viewers received their first look at new judge Ellen DeGeneres and the American Idol dream ended for almost half of the ninth season's 181 Hollywood Week hopefuls during last night's Idol broadcast on Fox.

Eighty five contestants were cut during the first two days of Hollywood Week, leaving 96 contestants in the running for American Idol's 24 ninth-season semifinalist slots.

American Idol's ninth-season Hollywood Week filmed last month but didn't begin airing until last night -- representing DeGeneres' first appearance on the show's judging panel after being tapped to replace Paula Abdul in September.

DeGeneres received a standing ovation from the hopefuls in the audience when she was introduced for the first time.

"I don't know how you feel right now, but I'll tell you one thing when people said, 'What do you know about music?'" DeGeneres told the contestants.

"I'll tell you one thing, I do know what it's like to stand on stage and try to please an entire room full of people. That is a hard thing to do."

The 181 contestants were split into two groups and performed over the course of two days.

Forty six contestants from the first group advanced during the first day, including Katie Stevens, a 17-year-old high school student from Middlebury, CT; Andrew Garcia, a 24-year-old musician from Moreno Valley, CA; Janell Wheeler, a 24-year-old sales representative from Tampa, FL; Haeley Vaughn, a 16-year-old high school student from Fort Collins, CO; Mary Powers, a 29-year-old singer from Burbank, CA; and Ashley Rodriguez, a 21-year-old college student from Boston, MA.

Antonio "Skiiboski" Wheeler, a 22-year-old designer salesman from Orlando, FL; Vanessa Wolfe, a 20-year-old fast food associate from Venere, TN; Cornelius Edwards, a 24-year-old security guard from Boynton Beach, FL; Maegan Wright, a 21-year-old cosmotologist from Richardson,TX; and Amadeo DiRocco, a 28-year-old bartender from Johnston, RI, were among those hopefuls cut on the first day.

Fifty contestants from the second group then advanced on the second day, including Lilly Scott, a 20-year-old sandwich maker and musician from Littleton, CO; Michael Lynche, a 25-year-old personal trainer from Astoria, NY; Timothy "Tim" Urban, a 20-year-old college student and musician from Duncanville, TX; Casey James, a 27-year-old musician from Fort Worth, TX; Didi Benami, a 23-year-old waitress from Knoxville, TN; and Crystal Bowersox, a 24-year-old musician from Elliston, OH.

New Jersey sisters Bernadette and Amanda Desimone; Jay Stone, a 25-year-old music business student from Miami, FL; Justin Williams, a 27-year-old voice coach from Sandy, UT; Paige Dechausse, a 21-year-old college student from Morris, IL; Erica Rhodes, a 22-year-old student from Irving, TX; Maddy Curtis, a 16-year-old high school student from Bluemont, VA, were among those hopefuls cut on the second day.

American Idol's coverage of the ninth season's Hollywood Week will continue with tonight's broadcast of the group round performances, after which the pool of contestants will be cut further.
Reality TV World is now available on the all-new Google News app and website. Click here to visit our Google News page, and then click FOLLOW to add us as a news source!

Although most of their identities appear to have already leaked online, American Idol will formally reveal the ninth season's Top 24 semifinalists during next Wednesday's broadcast.

(Photo credit Michael Becker / FOX)