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?