'Idol' judges drama upstaging competition
In this Jan. 8, 2013 photo, from left, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj from "American Idol" attend the Fox Winter TCA Tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel, in Pasadena, Calif. "American Idol" returns Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, for season 12. All is not well in the once peaceful land of "American Idol," despite a shake-up at the beginning of this season that was supposed to rejuvenate the aging Fox talent competition. Instead, the behind-the-scenes-and-sometimes-in-front-of-the-scenes drama continues to cast a shadow over the series, right up to the Thursday, May 16, 2013, coronation of its 12th season champion. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The ratings are down. Randy Jackson is out. Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj are still at it.
All is not well on TV's once dominant "American Idol," despite a shake-up at the beginning of this season that was supposed to rejuvenate the aging Fox talent competition. Instead, the behind-the-scenes-and-sometimes-in-front-of-the-scenes drama continues to cast a shadow over the series, right up to Thursday's coronation of "Idol's" 12th season champion.
Jackson's declaration last week that he was departing the show means producers could plan a proper send-off for the lone remaining original judge this week, much the same way they did for Simon Cowell during the ninth season finale in 2010. However, 'the fates of the other three judges remain uncertain amid reports they're out, too, and Fox and "Idol" producer FremantleMedia aren't commenting.
It's oh-so-familiar territory for the show, whose panel has revolved like an amusement park carousel since the addition of songwriter Kara DioGuardi at the beginning of the eighth season in 2009. The will-they-or-won't-they speculation sparked publicity for years, but many viewers — the ones who are left, anyway — have seemingly grown tired of the guessing games.
CAPTION CORRECTION: FILE - In this May 20, 2009 file photo, Judges Simon Cowell, left, and Randy Jackson arrive at the "American Idol" finale in Los Angeles. Jackson's announcement on Thursday, May 9, 2013, that he was departing the show means producers could plan a proper send-off for the lone remaining original judge soon, much the same way they did for Simon Cowell during the ninth season finale in 2010. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
"It's a disservice to the talent on the show," said Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo's music editor who writes about "Idol" and other televised singing competitions on the "Reality Rocks" blog. "I'm quite fatigued by all the emphasis on the judges, especially when they step down or aren't asked back or whatever, and the speculation begins about all the potential replacements."
A trio of chart-topping new faces on this season's panel was supposed to breathe new life into "Idol." With reported paychecks of $18 million for Carey, $12 million for Minaj and $6 million for Keith Urban, there hasn't been a return on the investment. The ratings have never been lower for "Idol," which for nine seasons was the most-watched show on TV.
What went wrong? How did "Idol" lose its way? Was it merely a lackluster crop of contestants this season? Their song selections? Or have viewers simply grown weary of searching for yet another superstar since 2002? Maybe they were turned off by that ongoing feud between hip-hop diva Minaj and pop queen Carey, just as much as by some of the contestants?