The rumors were true . . . and now it's official: MARIAH CAREY will judge "American Idol" next season. Fox confirmed that it's a done deal yesterday.
--Mariah also released this statement: Quote, "I'm so excited to be joining 'Idol' . . . I can't wait to get started in a couple months. It's going to be fun and rewarding to help find new talent and give back."
--Initial reports said it's a one-year deal worth $12 million . . . the same amount JENNIFER LOPEZ got for her first season. But sources tell TMZ she's getting $18 MILLION, which trumps the $15 million BRITNEY SPEARS got to do "X Factor".
--It's too early to say if Mariah is open to sticking around beyond one season . . . but "Idol" doesn't seem concerned with that. Producer NIGEL LYTHGOE says, quote, "I would like to see the judges change every year."
--Since the show is entering its 12th season, the revolving judges would allow for it to keep from getting stale . . . and for them to get bigger, more active celebrity judges who can't afford to step away from their careers for more than a year.
--Fox noted that RANDY JACKSON was "instrumental" in bringing Mariah to "Idol", which makes sense since he's her manager. This could mean that Randy will return as a judge . . . and not be switching to a "mentoring" role.
--For what it's worth, so-called "sources on the show" say Mariah was a, quote, "nightmare to work with" when she was a guest mentor back in Season Seven. (--Here's YouTube video of her previous "Idol" appearance.)
--Regardless, landing Mariah is a big deal for "Idol", and Fox knows it. A higher-up said, quote, "It's the biggest recording artist that any of these [singing competition] shows have ever had."
--It's also a big win for "Idol" over SIMON COWELL, who has been trying to get Mariah on "X Factor" for the past two years. (--As proof, check out our stories on that from March and April of last year, and from this February.)
--Yesterday, Simon pretended to have some reservations about Mariah being a judge. He said, quote, "I think she's going to find it difficult to say 'no' [to contestants]. She's sweet." But then he added, quote, "I think she's going to be great."
(--"X Factor" judge L.A. REID is also a big Mariah fan. He was photographed hanging out with her just this past weekend. It makes you wonder why Mariah apparently passed on "X Factor", only to sign on for "Idol".) (TMZ)
(--There's some debate online about how tough of a judge Mariah will be . . . since a lot of people think the judges were too nice last season . . . but I'm just hoping she's as crazy as she was in her HSN appearance last summer.)
(--Revisit highlights from that in this YouTube video. By the way, there's no further update on the rest of the judging panel for next season.)
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