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It's official: Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban to join 'American Idol'

September 16, 2012|By Scott Collins
  • Pop star Nicki Minaj will join the judges' table on "American Idol."
Pop star Nicki Minaj will join the judges' table on "American… (Paul Buck / EPA )

Following weeks of speculation, Fox has made it official: Pop star Nicki Minaj and country crooner Keith Urban will join Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson as "American Idol" judges.

The move comes as "Idol" gets ready to start auditions in New York on Sunday for Season 12, which will premiere in January on Fox. The field is crowded: Earlier this week, singing-show rivals "The X Factor" and "The Voice" opened to relatively soft ratings, with the former losing nearly one-third of its audience compared with last year.

"I am thrilled about this year's judges' panel," Mike Darnell, president of Fox's alternative entertainment division, said in a statement. "Nicki's an unbelievably captivating international phenomenon who has made an indelible mark on rap and pop. 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."

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Negotiations went down to the wire, with Fox unsure as of late Saturday whether both singers' deals would be signed in enough time for the performers to sit for the first round of auditions Sunday.

Jackson nearly didn't make the cut. Earlier stories reported that he would have his role reduced to mentor after producers flirted with hiring pop star Enrique Iglesias. But Jackson's job was saved after the Iglesias deal fell through.

Carey was hired earlier, reportedly for an annual paycheck of $18 million.

What do you think of Minaj and Urban joining "Idol"?


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— Scott Collins

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT

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