American Idol Honcho: Mariah/Nicki Feud Has Been Great Buzz

Share on Tumblr
Submit to redditShare via email

Mike Darnell, head of reality programming for FOX comments on the Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey feud in a Q&A with The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter: The Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj feud is getting a lot of attention. Will we see this drama onscreen next spring?

Mike Darnell: First of all, it’s an exceptionally good panel. Part of the complaints we’ve had over the last several years, even though we’ve had some really good judges, is that they all agree. Actually, the whole genre has this issue, right? That includes The Voice and X Factor. Thank God I have Simon because at least I have someone who doesn’t agree all the time. So we sought to get a group that would have diverse opinions. The banter is amazing. It’s fun, funny, energetic; there’s almost never a lull — there’s cross-talk. There’s everything you want. To get that, we have a very opinionated, passionate group, and so there has been some drama.

THR: So will we see any of the feud on the actual show?

Darnell: I don’t know what you’ll see yet, but I will tell you that the vast majority of what’s on tape is what I just described: a great, passionate, amazing panel that’s working beautifully.

THR: Does media’s focus on the drama concern you?

Darnell: No, I’m not concerned. I think the buzz has been great on the show. People are talking about it months and months before it comes on. I might be concerned if it wasn’t going so well.

THR: Is all controversy good in reality TV?

Darnell: If a show has controversy surrounding it, that almost never works. If it has controversy that has something to do with something that’s in the show, then people will come. We put on Who’s Your Daddy? [in which an adoptee tried to figure out his or her biological father] years ago, and we really thought it was going to work; it didn’t because all of the talk about that show was about the adoption community being upset at the premise; none of it was about what was within the show. It was the same thing when CBS did [its Lord of the Flies-style series] Kid Nation. All of the buzz was about the kids and labor laws. You didn’t need to tune in to see how it played out, so no one cared.

Except, the problem is that the feud between Nicki and Mariah had nothing to do with the show. It was a personal tiff that turned really ugly really quickly. And I have to disagree. No, that kind of nasty infighting may be good for The Real Housewives of Wherever, but I DON’T think it’s good for American Idol!

I’m repeating myself here, but the Idol producers need to focus on casting the show well and allowing the contestants to showcase their talents to the fullest. That includes spending some dough on better songs.

What do you guys think?

Via The Hollywood Reporter

 
  • heartly

    I also don’t think it’s a good thing at all.  When Idol comes on for those 5ish months, it already reaches levels of “make it stop!” Now, with all the nasty bickering happening that has nothing to do with what the show is about, it certainly doesn’t make me want to tune in.  I think these types of things fatigue the audience more than anything.

  • tommy

    I agree completely MJ.  While a frank and opinionated judging panel is good for the show, and serves the contestants well, catfights and ego-driven sniping is not.  It’s ridiculous and it may be cute to watch for an introduction, but it will soon grow tiring and repetitive, and petty. 

    These show’s ratings are not determined by the judges, or their constant musical chairs these TV execs think they are.  Look at the dismal X-Factor ratings this year after their supposed golden-gets of Spears and Lovato. 

    Get super talented relevant up and comers with great voices and personalities that generate buzz and people will watch.  Or find judges that clash and preen for attention and you’ll get a stale flatline show.

  • chillj

    This is the “any buzz is good buzz theme.”  Wait until this show comes on; we will find out then how good this feud was for the show.

  • elliegrll

    Who knows if when the show airs that it will be Mariah and Nicki that the producers focus on.  If it is them, then that will be a departure for American Idol, since the format of the show, unlike The Voice and last year’s the X Factor, is geared towards giving the contestants a lot more airtime than the judges get.

    I think that what can’t be denied is that this “feud” has gotten a lot of press.  More press than AI has gotten in years.  We won’t know until next year whether or not that press has helped or hurt the show.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    I think that Idol is in the process of evolving into something very different than what it once was, and not in a good way.

  • jinxx315

    Idol is turning into a mere shadow of it’s former self. 

  • elliegrll

    I don’t understand how we can come to this conclusion without viewing one episode.  So far, all we have is Nigel feeding information to TMZ, but that’s been something that has happened from the beginning, or at least the second season.

    There was an argument between two of the judges, also nothing that’s new.  

  • windmills

    I agree with MJ and a bunch of commenters here.

    If it weren’t for Keith Urban being a judge, odds are I’d skip the feud-based audition rounds and catch up on key contestants on the blog, then start watching when (if) things calmed down. Since I know I’ll be watching the new season on TV when the eps are airing for the 1st time, I’ve had to tune out the feud stuff. If I didn’t, I’d be in that viewer fatigue camp heartly mentioned. 

    When I do watch, the feuding angle is one that’d be more likely to irritate me than anything else. I’ve been skipping the judges’s comments for years (probably since s5 or s6) and the only reason I’ll watch them this year like I said is Keith.

  • blackberryharvest

    You can’t base this off of one feud. Since then, there have been reports of everything going well with the panel.

    I’m repeating myself here, but the Idol producers need to focus on
    casting the show well and allowing the contestants to showcase their
    talents to the fullest. That includes spending some dough on better songs.

    I agree.

  • blackberryharvest

     

    I think that Idol is in the process of evolving into something very different than what it once was, and not in a good way.

    Can we really base this off of one thing though? The show hasn’t even aired yet, who knows how much of it they will decide to show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Li-Wright/100001622678180 Li Wright

     I always compare AI with DWTS judges, who always seem entertaining and to have fun.  And it’s about the contestants! not the judges.  The judges get out of the way, but I have a feeling with 4 judges now, the camera is going to be more positioned on the judges than the contestants.  I mean the contestants already have about 1 minute to sing a song.  4 judges is too much!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5CTSGSGATMXQESVDDD7RWQRYXU Jane

    MJ: “No, that kind of nasty infighting may be good for The Real Housewives of Wherever, but I DON’T think it’s good for American Idol!”

    I have never agreed with you more. 

  • MyDailyComment

     There have never been any death threats from an argument on the show before, and then the person comes to set the next day with extra bodyguards.

  • blackberryharvest

    Weren’t those death threats said to be BS?

  • ellen8

    I agree with MJ’s last statement.   The Voice does just that by coaches working with them and giving them priceless advice.  The contestants always say they are better for it and it makes for good filler, for a change.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    “I think that what can’t be denied is that this “feud” has gotten a lot
    of press.  More press than AI has gotten in years.  We won’t know until
    next year whether or not that press has helped or hurt the show.”

    What criteria are you going to use to determine whether the press has helped or hurt the show? Ratings? If so, then that’s not what I am referring to in my comments that Idol is “in the process of evolving into something very different than what it once was, and not in a good way”. Clearly, the FOX head honcho is loving the attention that the conflict has brought to the show, and that kind of conflict (if it continues) will attract certain kinds of viewers, and may possibly change the composition of the viewing audience to one that is more interested in antics of the judges than the contestants. In the end though, ratings is all that FOX/Idol care about, not the show.

  • http://twitter.com/tinawinabina Tinawina

    I think a lot depends of what happens between now and the Idol premiere.

    Right now I think the bickering turned off more people than it turned on. They did not publicize the fight as the 2 arguing over a contestant (which would be about the show) it came off more like petty personal rivalries with a touch of catfight thrown in (not about the show).  That is not feel good, it is trash TV-type nasty, which is off brand for Idol.

    When Idol commercials start up again, if they emphasize great singers then I think people will tune in, but if they highlight judges sniping for 2 months prior to the debut, that won’t work IMO. It will just look desperate. With The Voice performing strongly and poised to break out in a big way this February, now is not the time to give people more reasons not to bother with AI.

    With this show though, I think getting people to tune in for the auditions is half the battle. If Idol can do that the contestants will get people to stay if TPTB play their cards right. I still believe this format is idiot proof when all is said and done.

  • Chris

    If they all can stay calm, especially on the live shows, I think this can blow over. They have a lot riding on S12 being a success. Find another Carrie/Kelly/Jordin/fill in the blank and all will be right in the AI world.

    And yes, buy more song rights please!

  • elliegrll

    With this show though, I think getting people to tune in for the auditions is half the battle.

    And this is where the judges come in.  Viewers aren’t connected with the contestants yet during this stage, because they don’t know a thing about them. This is the one stage of the competition that is almost as much about the judges as it is the contestants.  This is where the judges/producers can set the tone for the season, and determine if they can hook people into sticking with the show for the next few rounds, where the focus and draw has been the contestants.

    I think that season 11 showed that even if AI has good contestants, that that alone isn’t going to create a lot of buzz anymore or bring up ratings, especially if the audition episodes are as poorly produced as last season’s were.

    Maybe the Voice is showing that people will tune in for the mentors, since the changes that they made have given the mentors more airtime, and extended the friendly rivalry/banter that is a cornerstone of the audition episodes, so it would make sense for AI to use the judges to get people to check the show out.  

    The disagreements should be about the contestants, even though personal snipping between the judges and even the judge and host didn’t stop Simon Cowell from becoming many people’s favorite judge.  It’s not like his ego wasn’t on display from the start.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XDQP2Y46M5B3OHOKALDDGDHQCM Leandro

    The Voice came this season without any buzz and without the typical feuds between Christina and Adam and the ratings are doing nothing but increasing each episode, while the so-called Britney Factor, that had a lot of buzz and promised many dramatic moments is having really underwhelming ratings.

    I think majority of people want judges with chemistry and that mock each other a little bit, but just a bit. And singing still the main factor why the demo watch these shows.

    They just have to know how to temper the whole thing, cause if we’re gonna have everytime feuds like the one we saw, this is way too salty. I found hilarious when i saw the feud for the first time, but two days later I was bored.

  • mjsbigblog

    I think the auditions are about the contestants. Some of the most memorable AI moments are auditions that went viral for better or worse  That’s the kind of buzz that propels great ratings for Idol.

  • elliegrll

    The focus of the Voice is on the mentors.  One of the biggest draws of the show has been the relationship between Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.  Their relationship is played for laughs, but you can be sure that the producers have told those two to keep up what they are doing, and they’ve probably received some help with things to say to one another.  The “Steal” was implemented in order to put more focus on the mentors.

    I hate that the contestants on the Voice aren’t given more airtime, but the relationship between the judges makes up for it a little bit, because it makes the show more entertaining, especially during the Battle Rounds.

  • http://twitter.com/tinawinabina Tinawina

    I think the auditions are about both the contestants and the judges.  If the judges are having fun and giving us good reaction shots to the bad/crazy people, then they make the wait for the “wow” contestants bearable. If we don’t see them deliberate the talent and poke fun at each other, when those whole episodes go by where no one we’re really excited about comes along we feel like our time has been wasted. They are a bi part of what makes the auditions work.

    Now after that, if they don’t morph into good antagonists for our favorites to play off then they are pointless. But if we love our favorites we stick around anyway :)

  • mjsbigblog

    It’s not that the judges are unimportant. They are.  They need to have chemistry and the ability to react to contestants in a way that engages viewers. If we don’t care about their opinions, it’s pointless.  

    And yes, I agree that the audition phase can be really boring without the judges reacting in an entertaining way. I think both The Voice and X Factor have done a good job of editing the judges in the preliminary rounds.

    I remember back in Season 6, which started off with the highest ratings Idol has ever seen for the non-finale episodes. I think they opened with like 36 million. But the auditions were so depressing. Nigel relied on bad auditioners who really had some issues. And the thing to do was to have the judges snark on them after they left the room.  It wasn’t entertaining.  The ratings decreased and Season 6 is considered to be an off season.

    Controversy has it’s place. But it can’t take over. If people tune in to see if Nicki and Mariah are going to claw their eyes out–that’s not going to sustain ratings in the long run. Disagreements and tension that are contestant based will be a good thing. Side eyes and mean spirited snarking will not.

    And still…bring on the talent, Nigel.

  • jinxx315

    I say this because all of the drama has revolved around the judges, not a contestant who might have wowed them during auditions or something like that. This Minaj/Mariah quarrel seems like a desperate attempt at getting publicity.

  • http://twitter.com/tinawinabina Tinawina

    Okay, now that you put it that way that makes perfect sense. And I agree that the auditions can’t revolve around a Mariah/Nicki beef. That is not sustainable. If no compelling contestants cross our screens during the audition phase, Idol is toast.