EXCLUSIVE: I have learned that Mariah Carey is finalizing a deal to join Fox’s American Idol as a new judge. I hear Carey would command a salary of more than $17 million for next season, which would set a new record for talent on a reality series, eclipsing the paycheck of Idol‘s Jennifer Lopez.
Carey had been rumored as a potential new judge on the veteran Fox reality series, which is overhauling its panel coming off a season that saw ratings declines in a crowded marketplace and failed to land a best reality-competition Emmy nomination for the first time in the show’s history. Fox announced the departure of Steven Tyler, while fellow judge Lopez stated publicly that she would leave too.
I hear Fox moved quickly to secure Carey, who was previously courted for the network’s other singing competition, Simon Cowell’s The X Factor, as Idol has to set its taped auditions.
American Idol was the first major reality series to bring star power to its judging panel with the hire of JLo two years ago. NBC’s The Voice then landed Christina Aguilera, while Fox’s X Factor brought in Britney Spears. Idol, which for years had the singing competition market for itself, now has to share the space with The Voice and X Factor.