Mariah Carey's husband Nick Cannon may have boasted that "American Idol" couldn't afford to hire his superstar wife, but apparently he spoke too soon: Monday morning at Fox's Television Critics Association presentation, it was announced that "Idol's" new judge is in fact Mrs. Cannon, aka the one and only Mariah Carey. Call it the Idolization of Mimi, if you will.
Mariah, being the diva that she is, of course didn't appear personally at the TCAs, but Fox Broadcasting Company President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly called her live from Fox's presentation and put her on speakerphone for everyone to hear. "I really can't confirm anything except for one thing," he began, "which is we do in fact have one judge whose deal closed very, very recently. I think it's the biggest recording artist that any of these shows have ever had. It's an artist that many contestants have tried to emulate, have tried to have sung the songs, have tried to have hit the notes, and because it really was concluded only hours ago, our new judge cannot be with us."
He then dialed a phone--and Mariah answered.
"I'm so excited to be joining 'Idol,'" Mariah declared over the line. "First of all, I wanted to be there today. I wish I was there myself to tell you, but it all happened real quickly. I can't wait to get started in a few months. Everyone have a great TCAs, and I'll see you in January. Bye, everybody!"
Deadline.com reports that Mariah will earn a $17 million salary--which may not be the $100 million that Nick (presumably jokingly) claimed his missus deserved, but it's $2 million more than the judge Mariah will presumably replace, Jennifer Lopez, earned. (Nigel Lythoge still seems to think there's a "one percent" chance that J.Lo will come back, but she seems to have at least one Louboutin out the door.) Mariah's reported $17 mill is also $2 million more than another A-list pop star, Britney Spears, will pocket for her first season on "The X Factor." (UPDATE: TMZ reports that Mariah will actually earn $18 million.)
I still strongly advocate that "Idol" producers consider filling at least one open position on the Season 12 judging panel with a seasoned industry expert (like Jimmy Iovine, Quincy Jones...or, for some extra television drama, how about Mariah's ex-husband, music-biz big-wig Tommy Mottola?). And I'm not sure if Mariah, or ANY judge, is really worth $17 or $18 million (sorry, Nick). However, after giving it some thought, I do think that Mariah, who was a pretty decent mentor back in Season 7, could be a valuable addition to the "Idol" cast. Here are five reasons why:
She's one tough broad - Something tells me Mimi won't play nice on "Idol." This is a GOOD thing. After two seasons of J.Lo and Steven Tyler coddling every contestant, telling them they're "beautiful, just beautiful" and breaking out in "goosies" every 30 seconds, it's time for some tough talk on "Idol"--and I can totally imagine Mimi delivering it in her brazen New Yawk accent. I even think Mariah has it in her to be an Omarosa-esque TV villainess, someone who can make Jimmy Iovine look like Ellen DeGeneres...and I say, bring it on.
She can actually sing - Let's face it, Jennifer Lopez was never going to go down in history for her Maria Callas-like belting ability. (The same could be said for Britney, or, come to think of it, original "Idol" judge Paula Abdul.) But Mariah is considered to be one of the greatest voices of her generation, or possibly of all time. So she comes to the panel with some built-in cred.
She'll have chemistry with at least one other judge - Randy Jackson, who recently insisted on "The View" that he is NOT leaving "Idol," is Mariah's manager. (Kevin Reilly stated at the TCAs that Randy was instrumental in orchestrating Mariah's "Idol" deal.) So hopefully their longtime relationship will automatically make Mariah comfortable on the show, and she'll settle into her judging role straight away, with none of the awkwardness most celebrity judges experience when they're first tossed into the "Idol" mix.
She's a DIVA - I assume/hope/pray that the outlandish outfits Mimi will wear on every "Idol" episode will make J.Lo's glamazon gowns and Steven Tyler's rock 'n' roll scarves look like Casey Abrams's pulled-from-the-hamper casual wear. Feathers, fun fur, sequins, hotpants, and lots of pink, pink, pink...Mariah's "Idol" wardrobe just might be the glitziest reality-TV wardrobe this side of "RuPaul's Drag Race," and that alone could boost "Idol's" ratings. Not to mention give me some great costume ideas for Halloween 2013!
She'll fan the reality-war flames - Last year, Mariah was supposed to be a mentor on "The X Factor" at Simon Cowell's house in the south of France, but bad weather caused her flight to be cancelled, and she never showed up. Later, after Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger were fired from "The X Factor" after one season, rumors ran rampant that Simon would hire Mariah on a full-time basis, but this too never happened. Now she's been poached by "Idol" instead, and I bet Simon's arch nemesis, "Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, is feeling mighty smug right about now. Will Simon retaliate in some way? I sure hope so. Pass the popcorn, please.
Do you think Mariah will be a good "American Idol" judge? And who should join her and Randy on the panel? Feel free to leave your comments below.
additional reporting by Chrissy Le Nguyen