At this point it's safe to say that the Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey experiment was a dud. While "American Idol" producers certainly got their money's worth from the turbulent twosome as far as on- and off-screen tension is concerned, neither diva has helped pull the graying show out of what appears to be a fairly predictable 12th season slump.
Ratings are on a steady slide, this year's remaining three female contestants have little-to-no buzz and viewers appear to be tuning in to a variety of other shows after making "Idol" appointment viewing for the past 11 seasons.
So, what do you do? According to Radar Online, you go back to the same drawing board again, roll the celeb judge dice one more time and hope for a lucky seven this time around. Quoting anonymous sources, the site reported on Monday (May 6) that producer Nigel Lythgoe's desperate plan to boost ratings is to assemble a "dream team" of new judges that includes former (and maybe current again ) couple Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, Pink and Sean "Diddy" Combs. That would indicate that not only are Minaj, Carey and Keith Urban headed for one-and-done status, but that after 12 seasons sole original judge Randy Jackson might be on his way out as well. In this scenario, only host Ryan Seacrest's job is safe.
While a spokesperson for "Idol" offered a no comment at press time on the rumor, the anonymous source told Radar that after a lackluster season, "Everyone involved with the show is well aware of it so that's why producers are franticly working on lining up big name stars for season 14 ... There's more drama going on behind the scenes of the show than on the stage, and that's why there's a major overhaul in the works."
It wouldn't be the first time this season that a judge swap was reportedly in the works. Recent reports claimed that nervous execs were considering dumping Carey and bringing back two-season veteran Jennifer Lopez. While a spokesperson for the show dismissed that talk as nonsense at the time, it would not be a surprise if "Idol" attempted another reboot. Aside from some cringe-worthy TV, neither Minaj nor Carey have proven to be ratings magnets. In fact, it's likely that Minaj's dismissive attitude toward Carey has turned off some of the show's rapidly aging audience and in a season when the talent on stage is tepid at best, Carey's passiveness has been matched by viewer apathy.
Keep in mind, producers introduced the 50 online votes at once feature this season and vote totals (at least those announced to date) do not appear to have gotten a significant bump.
The "Idol" judging roulette wheel tends to start spinning every year at this point in the season and while Diddy and Pink's names have cropped up on the shortlist before (with both turning down the offer), those veterans seem a tad more likely to sign on the line for big cash than Bieber and Gomez, who are both at the peak of their earning powers.
The reboot three seasons ago with Lopez and Steven Tyler provided an initial boost, but didn't ultimately help "Idol" as it continued any long-in-the-tooth program's inevitable ratings slide. Similar efforts on rival "The Voice" with Usher and Shakira have seemingly worked because that newer show still has the glow of novelty and the crackling, entertaining rapport between the judges has become an important part of the reason to tune in.
Considering the size of the Brinks truck they'd have to back up for any of the new judges — keeping in mind that Carey alone pulled down a reported $18 million this year — it seems unlikely that a financial scenario exists where it would make sense for Fox to spend that kind of cash on a show that is clearly rounding third and headed for the clubhouse.
Then again, there's little risk for the stars if they do decide to take a chance considering they'd earn huge paydays and if the ratings go up they are perceived as winners. And even if the numbers keep going down, well, the house was on fire when they went in.
Who would you like to see as a judge on "American Idol?" Let us know in comments below!
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