According to The Hollywood Reporter, plenty of behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding over who’ll be joining Mariah Carey at the judging table for the next season of American Idol now that TV’s No. 1 show needs to replace departing judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.
According the entertainment-industry trade, Idol producers want a four-judge panel for next season, to consist of Carey (who was officially confirmed as new judge last month), pop star Nicki Minaj, a country singer and a Latin singer (Keith Urban and Enrique Iglesias are reportedly frontrunners in their respective categories).
Minaj’s participation, however, is far from a done deal thanks to the long-running rivalry between competing soft drink giants Coke and Pepsi. Minaj just signed a lucrative deal with Pepsi to be the new face of the sugar-water beverage, which is kicking in big bucks for her endorsement, which includes TV commercials and tour sponsorship. This does not sit too well with Coke, which has been been a sponsorship partner with Idol since its first season, kicking in a reported US$26 million annually.
Complicated negotiations are reportedly underway to figure out a way around this (The Hollywood Reporter notes that a similar situation took place when J-Lo signed on to endorse Fiat, which didn’t sit well with longtime Idol sponsor Ford).
Nobody from Fox or Freemantle (which produces Idol) is commenting, but you may have noticed one name that’s conspicuously absent: Randy Jackson, who’s been a judge since season one and, as far as I know hasn’t quit the show yet.
In fact, rumours have been swirling for awhile now that Jackson — who is Mariah Carey’s co-manager — will remain on the show, but not as a judge; one rumour has him taking on a “diminished role” and possibly even taking over the mentor spot from producer Jimmy Iovine. One unidentified source claims that Jackson will stay on the show to serve as a “comfort blanket” for Carey, although a different source says reports of Iovine leaving the show are “not accurate.”