Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban Nearing 'American Idol' Deals
A source tells THR that the rapper and hitmaker is at the final phase of signing an $8 million contract with the Fox show. Country star Urban, meanwhile, seems to have undercut contender Brad Paisley.
Nicki Minaj is closing in on a rich deal to join American Idol as a judge for season 12, a source close to the Fox show tells The Hollywood Reporter. In addition, country star Keith Urban is nearing his own deal to join the panel.
Minaj and Urban have been in talks for weeks with Idol producers Fox, FremantleMedia and CORE Media Group's 19 Entertainment. THR first revealed last Friday that Idol wanted Minaj but the flamboyant rapper's Pepsi sponsorship was irking Idol partner Coke. Those issues apparently have been worked out, and Minaj will receive about $8 million to join the show with additional allowances for wardrobe, hair and makeup. Minaj could sign on the dotted line as soon as today or early next week, adds the source.
Urban, who told an Australian radio station that he was in talks to join Idol, has agreed to take a third seat for a salary of $3 million to $4 million, according to the source. Former country contender Brad Paisley apparently dropped out of the conversation because he wanted to match Minaj's pay scale, which was a nonstarter with Idol brass. As also previously reported by THR, the show is looking to cut costs where it can, from production to talent.
Even with Mariah Carey's reported $18 million payday, the show is keeping in line with previous salary costs. Bear in mind that Simon Cowell was paid a whopping $35 million a year by the time he gave up his judge seat after season 9.
As for what the new names would bring to the show, Minaj is a fresh face with a true rags-to-riches story whose radio track record is hard to beat. She's also known for her wild, sometimes unpredictable behavior and outrageous style that boasts multiple stage personalities, one of which is a British male (Cowell the hip-hop sequel?).
Urban, who is married to actress and fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman, is one of country music's biggest stars, both in the U.S. and around the world. Although throat problems have sidelined touring for the past couple of years, Urban has stayed busy working on new music for a future album and judging another singing competition show: Australia's The Voice. "I’m trying to make an album, and it’s strange how these opportunities all come in one big fell swoop," he said earlier this week.
The only question mark remains Randy Jackson, whose fate has not been decided. He might stay on as a fourth judge, or he might not, say sources. Idol producers are still talking with prospective judges for that fourth slot, and if they can find the right fit for the right price, Jackson could be shifted off the judges' panel for the first time in the show's history.
But as Carey's co-manager and an Idol loyalist from the start, Jackson still is likely to have a major role on the show, even if it's not as an official judge.
When contacted by THR, Fox and FremantleMedia had no comment. Reps for Minaj and Urban have not responded.
Kim Masters contributed to this report.