It’s official: American Idol is adding new judges from the worlds of country music and hip hop.
Fox announced Sunday that 44-year-old Aussie singer Keith Urban and colorful 29-year-old rapper Nicki Minaj will sit with pop diva Mariah Carey at the season 12 judges table of the reality hit, along with returning judge Randy Jackson. The confirmation settles months of behind-the-scenes reports and speculation about the show’s panel that saw singers such as Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, Adam Lambert and Kanye West floated as possible judges.
“Nicki’s an unbelievably captivating international phenomenon who has made an indelible mark on rap and pop,” said Fox’s president of alternative Mike Darnell in a statement. “And Keith is another great addition to Idol – he’s one of the biggest stars in country music and I know that our fans and contestants will fall in love with him. With an unparalleled star like Mariah, fan-favorite Randy, chart-toppers like Nicki and Keith and our incomparable host Ryan [Seacrest], we’ve put together one of the most exciting judging panels around.”
Earlier this summer, Fox announced the exit of Idol season 10 and 11 judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, along with the hiring of Carey. The network then strongly considered shifting Jackson to a mentor role. After quietly selecting Minaj and Urban for slots, Fox recently made an offer to Latin singer-songwriter Enrique Iglesias to fill a fourth spot, but those talks broke down last week. In addition to Carey receiving about $17 million for her role on the show, we’re hearing Urban will pull down about $4 million. According to one report, Minaj will earn around $8 million.
The network hopes the new hires will boost the ratings of the aging series — or at least stabilize its declines. Though Idol remains TV’s top entertainment series, the show suffered a record year-over-year ratings drop last season. Part of the problem is the marketplace has become more crowded with singing competition shows like NBC’s The Voice and Fox’s own X Factor. READ FULL STORY