Tonight, American Idol will kick off its 12th season with a two-night premiere and a revamped judges panel. New judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban will join Idol veteran Randy Jackson.
The new superstar lineup did not come cheap, costing the program $36 million in combined paychecks. A large chunk of that went to Carey, who is rumored to have gotten $18 million. However, Fox executives think the expensive shakeup will have a ratings payoff.
“I think it’s actually a renewal [of Idol] every couple of years, and what you’re seeing now is this panel has reinvigorated the show,” said Mike Darnell, Fox president of alternative entertainment.
This season has been attracting media buzz since the audition tapings last summer, due to a reported feud between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.
Partial footage of the fight leaked online last fall, adding credence to rumors of tension between the two. The video was captured during auditions held in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to sources, Nicki and Mariah disagreed over a contestant’s performance and the former lost her cool with a shaken Keith Urban caught in the middle.
“I’m gonna knock you out!” said the “Super Bass” rapper directly to Carey. She then turned her attention to producers and her threats alluded to trouble in the past.
“I told them, I’m not f*ckin’ putting up with her f*ckin’ highness over there,” spat Minaj.
Yet, apparently tensions have now cooled between the two–at least until the live shows start later this Spring. The rap star admitted to Ellen DeGeneres that she regretted behaving in such an over the top way. “I don’t know if she’s gotten over it but I have,” said Minaj.
For now, the judges are putting on a united face for the premiere. At a promo event last week, they commented on the amount of talented female singers in this season’s lineup.
“There are some talented boys, but I must say, I think the girls could really win one,” Jackson predicts. “We haven’t had a girl winner in so long.” Some of the most famous female winners include Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
Minaj concurs on the amount of female talent. “The girls are exceptional. I mean, a girl will definitely win this year, I think,” she says.
The season 12 premiere of American Idol will begin at 8 PM on Fox. Ryan Seacrest will again serve as host.