The drama is getting started a bit ahead of schedule over at American Idol. Ever since Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler decided to bow out from their roles as judges on the popular reality singing competition (though not Randy Jackson, apparently) there has been a great deal of speculation and conjecture as who will take over their spots. About a month since Tyler and Lopez’ departure, it looks like the panel for Season 12 is finally coming together. Maybe.
Mariah Carey was one of the first names floated around as a replacement judge. Indeed, Carey was the first new face to sign on for season 12 to the tune of $18 million. But it looks like Carey might not be the only woman at AmIdol this time around; Nicki Minaj is reportedly close to signing onto the show for $8 million and an allowance for hair, makeup, and outfits. Knowing Minaj, that could easily drive her price tag into the tens of millions.
While it doesn’t sound like Carey is too pleased with having to share the spotlight with another female performer it is unlikely that she would have been the lone diva for long. Katy Perry was also in talks with Idol to judge, though $20 million apparently wasn’t enough to land her.
As for the guys it’s still unknown who is going to be bro-ing out with Jackson in season 12. Keith Urban is in talks with the show and he would certainly lend the twang to the proceedings that Idol has been lacking. It would be an easy transition for Urban, too, as he has just wrapped up his judging gig on Australia’s incarnation of The Voice. The other big hosting candidate would be rapper and living embodiment of ego Kanye West. It also sounds like West has some pretty powerful backers, namely American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and Kris Jenner, matriarch of the Kardashian clan and momager extraordinaire. So, he’s basically got it, right?
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The producers and the Fox network already have to worry about sagging ratings (the average viewership in season 11 dropped 23 percent to below 20 million for the first time in nine years, and the show fell from No. 1 for the season”to No. 2”for the first time since 2005), not to mention less commercially viable Idols and external competition from The Voice, The X Factor, and pretty much any reality show that promises to make a nobody a star.
Now, the producers have to deal with pleasing Mariah Carey, who has signed on as a judge next season, replacing either Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler, both of whom left after two years in order to focus full-time on their music careers (and in the case of Lopez, her “acting” career, too).
I once interviewed Carey for an Us Weekly cover story, and I found her to be warm, intelligent and surprisingly funny, but she’s a diva through and through. (She actually walked into the living room of her New York City hotel suite cradling her miniature dog!) Idol will reportedly pay her a very diva-like sum of between $12 and $17 million a season (a hefty and not altogether worthwhile expense, considering that Carey is well past her pop heyday), and I don’t even want to think about her list of perks and demands.
Meanwhile, there are murmurings that Randy Jackson, the last remaining original judge, currently in contract negotiations, might be moving from the judge’s table into more of a mentoring role, in an attempt to revamp the show for season 12, launching in January of 2013. Sadly, that restructuring doesn’t extend to Ryan Seacrest, the inexplicably still-highly employable host, who has signed up for another two years at a pay rate of $15 million per season. Is it too late to invite ex-judge Ellen DeGeneres back for the job they should have offered her in the first place?
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