Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres

American Idol comes back in January, and judge Kara DioGuardi says there is some important prep work necessary before Season 9 starts: bonding time!

DioGuardi said she plans on spending some quality time with new Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres this December, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm hoping the chemistry with Ellen will be great -- and a great start to the season," she said at THR's Media and Money conference on Friday.

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DioGuardi also praised DeGeneres' predecessor at the conference, saying that Paula Abdul was "the heart of the show" who "nurtured and empathized. That was her role, and she was great at it."

In addition to establishing a relationship with DeGeneres, DioGuardi is also focused on establishing her own Idol persona this year, her second on the show.

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"You have to know on the show who you are and have a vision of yourself," DioGuardi said at the conference. "What am I trying to represent? You'll see more of this branding myself."

Idol returns this January.