"American Idol" has been in the news all summer, with rumored cast changes cropping up every week. The latest reports give us our first confirmed new judge, music diva Mariah Carey. Fox execs say a second judge will be named soon, but there's no solid word yet what will happen to panel stalwart Randy Jackson. Though he's often maligned for his obsessive celebrity name-dropping and overused catch phrases, the news about Mariah Carey has revealed that the "Idol" veteran is more music and career savvy than viewers might have expected.
Music with Mariah
"American Idol" fans tend to think of Jackson sitting at the judges' table and yelling "Inittowinit!" 10 times a week before collecting a paycheck. Read his biography, however, and you'll find an impressive list of music performing and producing, talent promoting, and executive credentials. On that list is Mariah Carey, who has worked with the bespectacled judge for years and speaks highly of his skills in the studio.
In a radio interview to promote her second Christmas album, the pop superstar gushed over how helpful Jackson was to her. "People don't even realize how talented he is," she stressed. She also praised his easy-going personality and the fact that he hasn't changed despite all of his TV success. "I've been working with Randy for so long, I forget how famous he is now." This is an important point for the longtime "American Idol" judge's critics--love him or hate him, he's one of the most recognized, talked-about people in entertainment.
Money from Mariah
Jackson's bio mentions that he manages talent like "critically acclaimed singer Van Hunt and the band Paper Tongues." What might be news to "American Idol" viewers is that he also recently became Carey's manager, and was at the negotiating table for the deal to add her to the show as the first new judge. The "Glitter" star is reported to make somewhere from $12 million to $17 million for her first year on the music reality series, and it's a good bet that Jackson got a substantial cut of that. Who's "inittowinit" now?
Future on the show
After helping "American Idol" land as big a music icon as Mariah for the show, it's a good bet that the jovial "anchor" judge will get to stick around the TV studio if he wants to. "We have a close relationship with Randy," said Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly. "He's a very important part of the television show." Reilly promised to reveal more about which part that will be in the coming weeks.
Some sources report that Jackson will move to more of a mentoring role on "American Idol." After more than a decade on the judges panel, we might finally get to see some of that musical genius that has made him a lot of money and celebrity connections. If viewers actually witness the "Dawg" at work with contestants, he could earn a lot more respect than all that name-dropping ever could.
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