Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mariah Carey reveals tummy in skimpy crop top

 Mariah Carey is one tough mama! The mother of twins Moroccan and Monroe, 20 months, took advantage of the warmer weather in New York City on Wednesday, January 30, to take a stroll downtown in a skin-baring outfit. Carey, 42, rocked a black leather jacket, a short crop-top and long flowing black skirt for her jaunt through the city - with a pair of black open-toed platforms to cap off the look.
 The American Idol judge, who has been making headlines for her verbal scuffles with fellow judge Nicki Minaj, looked carefree as she smiled for cameras. The veteran singer addressed the ongoing feud in a sit-down interview with Barbara Walters earlier this month after the talk show host asked her about Minaj reportedly threatening to shoot her.
 "It felt like an unsafe work environment," the "Triumphant" singer admitted to Walters on the Nightline special. "Anytime anybody's reeling threats at somebody, that's not appropriate. Sitting there on the road with two babies, I'm not gonna take any chances, so yeah, I did hire more security."
 "I think it's a classic, classy show, and it didn't need this," she added.
(Us Magazine)

More pics available at LambzRus Facebook page

Mottola unapologetic about "obsessive" mentoring

There are many elements that go into the making of a superstar, and with a talent like Mariah Carey's, some special handling is often needed. In the case of Tommy Mottola, the former Sony Music Entertainment executive who mentored the current "American Idol" judge as she rose up the charts, that included marrying her.
 Their five-year union was rocky, and she's since been quoted as calling him "controlling" and "a Svengali". But Mottola, who joined Today's Matt Lauer Tuesday to discuss his new book "Hitmaker: the man and his music", was not exactly apologetic about his behavior, because it got results.
 "I think anybody that's successful becomes obsessive about what they're trying to succeed at," he said. "I have nothing but the greatest respect for her in the world. I feel great about all the things she's achieved as a result of all the work that we did."
 That said, he does regret getting personally involved with Carey, who at 23 was 20 years his junior when they wed. "You can never control sometimes what happens in your personal life, as we all know," he said. "The good thing that came out of all of this is that she became one of the most successful superstars in the world."
 Mottola also worked with other stars who had diva tendencies, including Michael Jackson - who he called "the most talented artist that I've probably ever worked with", but "there were too many people who didn't tell him the things that probably would have helped him".
 And because he's been associated with such great names throughout the music business, Lauer naturally wanted to get Mottola's opinion on the Beyonce lip-syncing pseudo-scandal. For her, Mottola was unequivocal: "Beyonce is one of the greatest singers in the world, and my feeling is, any time that she wants to get up and sing, she can sing as well if not better than anyone, and everyone should just leave Beyonce alone!"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Baby (Mariah Carey Remix)

That Kid C-G Feat. Mariah Carey - My baby (Remix) 

Available to VIP members of the forum now! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mariah Carey: New Album Will Benefit from "Re-Energizing" Experience of "American Idol"

Mariah Carey's been working on a new album for quite some time and, while it doesn't have a release date, it just made Entertainment Weekly's list of upcoming "Albums We Can't Wait For."  Whenever it does appear, though, Mariah says it will be a better record because of her stint as a judge on American Idol.

According to Mariah, her Idol experience -- specifically, watching the contestants give their all in their quest to make it -- has inspired her to push herself artistically.

"I think that this process has gotten me to a place where I look at some of the contestants and I go, 'You know what?  This person has to try so hard and come in here and bare everything,' makes me want to be a better artist," Mariah explains.

The superstar diva also says that the contestants' drive and determination has reminded her why she got into the business in the first place, and she's keeping that in mind as she works on her album.

"Whether it's lyrics, vocals, whatever it is, chord changes that I'm writing with someone I'm hearing in my head, honestly, I feel like you look at that drive, and it re-energizes you," Mariah says.

Mariah's fellow judge and manager Randy Jackson says he's not surprised that Mariah feels so inspired artistically by her Idol experience, because he's seen it before.

"I think that's happened for every artist that's been on this show," says Randy. "I know it happened for Jennifer [Lopez] and Steven [Tyler].  I'm sure it'll happen for Nicki [Minaj] and Keith [Urban] and, you know... for Paula [Abdul] or whomever's been on the show."

Mariah, however, doesn't like her experience to be compared to those other judges.  After Randy made his comments, she laughed, "Don't throw me in the batch [with them]!"

(ABC News)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mariah Carey set for comeback with 'Hope Street' single

LambzRus "Hope Street" Single cover

Today, KIIS FM in Los Angeles mentioned how Mariah Carey is finishing her new album. But the news that will have gay men quivering is that we interviewed a very big record executive this morning during our trip to Los Angeles (full interview coming this week) and he revealed that Mariah and her team are deciding on the first single. As of today, it is believed that a scorching ballad called "Hope Street" will be making its way to radio in March

"This isn't cheesy rent-a-rapper Mariah who squeals every note possible. It is awesome, experimental, and sounds like a Joni Mitchell record on steroids. Mariah uses the lower register of her voice to an amazing effect," we are told. Apparently, Mariah is tired of trying to appeal to teenagers and has made an album that is heartfelt, personal and very artistic.

In other good news for Mrs. Cannon, it looks like American Idol ratings were pretty decent on Thursday. Still, we wish Mariah would get off of television and get back on stage.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mariah Carey cozies up with daughter

Some 17.9 million viewers tuned in to the season premiere of "American Idol" last night. Among them: "Idol" judge Mariah Carey herself, who apparently watched the show from the comfort of her home and in the company of her one-year-old daughter, Monroe.
 "Looking at Instagram during a commercial break," she tweeted, along with a photo that shows Mariah knows how to lounge in style. (PJs, duvet, diamond bracelets? Check!) No surprises there as we saw her son Moroccan kicking back in a similar fashion last year.
 Mariah's twins are clearly taking cues from their mama on how to be both practical and fab. (Look at how adorably Monroe's cosmetology skills are shaping up.) It's nice to see someone's got their work-life balance in check. Judging by the shots fired on the debut episode of "American Idol" Wednesday, it seems that work for Mariah continues to bring nothing but stress!
 The singer opened up recently about how she's balancing her new gig with her duties as a mom. "I don't know that I felt like this would ever be necessarily the right fit for me, but then it turned out really working well after I had the babies and everything," she told reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour earlier this month.
 "You can kind of stay in one place and let them feel grounded and have fun and go to children's museums and that kind of stuff," she added.
(Huffington Post)

Download: American Idol

Mariah Carey EPK

Episode 01 (New York Auditions)

Judging the New Judges: TV Guide gives Mariah the Top Marks

The wait is over. American Idol kicked off its 12th season in typically dramatic fashion. There was laughter, there were tears, there was singing ... and all that was just at the judges' table.

Cleavage Check: The best and worst "globes" of the Golden Globes

Despite producer Nigel Lythgoe's repeated overtures that the reality singing competition is still "all about the contestants," the two-hour premiere (and previews Fox released from Thursday's episode)  made that claim seem dubious at best. With three new faces — feuding divas Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, and caught-in-the-middle country star Keith Urban — joining veteran Randy Jackson on the panel, the most noteworthy moments of the first episode came courtesy of the celebrities, not the budding stars.

First, let's address the elephant in the room: the Nicki-Mariah feud. In a conference call last week, Lythgoe described their public dirty-laundry-airing as unwelcome publicity and dismissed claims that it was drummed up by the show in order to generate attention for the new season. The premiere seemed to fall in line with that. During the Chicago and New York tryouts, Minaj and Carey sniped and eye-rolled back and forth so much (sometimes at the expense of auditioners, who could do nothing but look on awkwardly) that an exasperated Urban at one point protested that he was starting to "feel like a scratching post" between the two. Our thoughts? Let's keep the train wreck factor confined to the less-talented contestants. Nobody likes a diva — and this is going to get old fast.

Winter TV Preview: Must-see new shows

But enough about the collective dynamic. How do the new judges rate individually? Here's our take:

Mariah Carey: "The definition of diva," as the show's intro described Carey, skillfully treads the line between being friendly and respectful to the contestants, while at the same time offering them constructive feedback about their talents or lack thereof. And the best part? She seems to not only be taking the role seriously, but also shows genuine interest — or does a great job of faking it — when indulging hopefuls that are also die-hard fans, like Tina Torres, the sweet alumni of Camp Mariah who showed the singer a picture of herself when she first sang for Carey at age 13. (Cue the first Minaj eyeroll.) Grade: A-

Nicki Minaj: If the season premiere is any indication, Minaj will spend most of her critiquing time, if not taking digs at Carey, either flirting with the contestants (enough to warrant a montage) or judging them on their entire stage presence, rather than just their singing. Hey, Nicki — this isn't The X Factor. Minaj also has an uncanny knack for making several of the auditions about her. Remember the girl the pop star accused of starting a "rivalry" with her because they were wearing the same color eyeshadow? And what's with the fake British accent? She's not Madonna! As for her feedback, the only hopeful a perked-up Minaj truly fought for to send to Hollywood performed "Super Bass" as one of her songs. Grade: C

Keith Urban: Poor Keith. When Urban offers feedback, it's thoughtful, well-considered, and effective. But Mr. Nicole Kidman's primary role, it would seem, is to be the voice of reason in this circus, to act as a buffer between Carey and Minaj, whose outsize personalities and attempts to one-up each other overshadow the soft-spoken country singer. Still, Urban's the only judge who meshes with the "white boy with guitar" aesthetic the show has exhibited in recent years, so maybe he'll step up his game once the live shows begin. And we think we heard him crack a few choice jokes in there. Grade: B-


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Did babies end Mariah Carey's weird dog obsession?

Loving your dog is one thing, but most dog owners don't tweet constantly about their pets, bring them into the music studio, or have them attend a hospital birth. "Mariah Carey: a diva who loves her dogs!" People cheerfully headlines a gallery of shots proving that Mariah Carey was an annoying dog-mom before she was a buyer of kajillion-dollar nurseries for twins Moroccan and Monroe, though her obsession seems to have cooled as of late.
 Let's start with the number of dogs, shall we? Five of them. Five. Five dogs small enough to carry in a purse, all Jack Russell terriers. Next, the names. It's painful to type them. Ready? Cha Cha, Jackie Lambchops, Squeak E. Beans, JJ and Jill E. Beans.
 Has anyone informed Carey she's a 42-year-old woman, by any chance? We wonder if she dots the i in her name with a little heart. Anyhoo, having proved she's still terribly twee in middle age with her dog names, Carey has been hauling around her dogs to inappropriate spots for years.
 Back in July, Carey tweeted a photo of Jill E. Beans (ugh) wearing headphones (double ugh) and facing a monitor, with the caption, "Just finished a long session with Jill E. Beans. She's producing now. Haaaaaa." (Infinity ugh!) Jill E. also appeared in the music video Carey made in 2011 with Justin Bieber, "All I Want for Christmas Is You." And Jill E. has appeared in assorted other tweets, including one in which she jumps for a strawberry in an elegant hotel room and one where Carey jogs with what she calls "dem pups".
 Carey also brought Jill E. Beans onstage during the September 2012 NFL Kickoff concert at NYC's Rockefeller Plaza, and brought all five to the hospital when she gave birth to Roc and Roe, where they had their own room. Yes, a room specifically for the dogs.
 But since having (actual) babies, Carey seems to have cooled on her dogs - she hasn't tweeted anything about them in months, and the last time a dog picture appeared on her Instagram feed was October. And Carey's been posting plenty of pictures, most notably a set from the star's Australian holiday, during which Mariah and Nick Cannon found time to ride a miniature train, and um, dress up with the twins like Goldilocks and the three bears.
 It's like every other parent who has album after album of dog/cat pictures: once the baby's born, the pet never shows up again.

10 Reasons Mariah's the most qualified judge yet

Season 12 of American Idol hasn't begun to air yet, and we already know what to expect: namely, cat fights and competing egos at the judges table. Since Idol's massive judges shakeup in Season 10 - when they introduced superstars Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez to the mix (a change that was foreshadowed by Ellen DeGeneres' replacement of Paula Abdul and Kara Dioguardi's stints as judge) - the judges themselves have demanded more attention. And this season, with Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, and Mariah Carey joining Randy Jackson, we have more star power squeezed behind the desk than ever before. But, we also have one of the most qualified judges to date.
 While Lopez, Tyler, Urban, and Minaj (Minaj to a lesser extent) have had long and successful careers as performing artists, none of them have seen the same commercial success or know the industry as inside out as Carey. Today, with her cradle-robbing marriage to Nick Cannon and ridiculously named twins (I will never get over Monroe and Moroccan) taking center stage in the media, it's easy to forget that Carey is one of the most talented and ubiquitous R&B artists of all time. With that in mind, here are 10 reasons why Mariah is actually qualified to be a judge on a singing competition reality show.

 1. Her talent is indisputable. Carey is notable for having a voice with a five octave range, a feat accomplished by few. The current world record for vocal range is eight octaves. Carey beats out her The Voice counterpart Christina Aguilera in this regard - her range is "only" four octaves.
 2. She is no studio-produced songbird, Carey's vocal talents translate to the stage. A New York Times review of one of Carey's first arena concerts, in 1993 at Madison Square Garden, states, "Although rock concerts aren't known for precise intonation, she sang with startlingly exact pitch." So if Mariah tells a contestant he or she is "a little pitchy," you know you can trust her.
 3. She's got the awards to back up her talent. Carey has been nominated for 34 Grammy awards and has taken home the trophy five times (in 1991 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist, in 2006 for Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance). Carey also has 11 American Music Awards and 31 Billboard Awards to her name.
 4. Speaking of Billboard, Carey rules the charts. Here are her impressive stats: She holds the record for most weeks at No.1 - in 1995 and 1996, her single "One Sweet Day" held the top spot for 16 weeks. She has had 27 Top 10 singles, the second-most of any female artist (behind Madonna), and is tied for the sixth most overall (with Janet Jackson and Elton John). Carey ranks only behind The Beatles in No. 1 singles (she has 18, they have 20). She is tied with Elvis for the most cumulative weeks at No. 1 with 79 weeks.
 5. Carey is the second-highest-selling female artist of all time, with a reported 200 million albums sold worldwide. While bands such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Queen as well as male artists like Elvis Presley and Elton John beat Carey's number, only one lady surpasses her in album sales. And that lady, my friends, is Madonna.
 6. She's more than just a vocalist. Carey writes and produces the majority of her songs.
 7. Carey was included in the lineup for the first ever VH1 Divas Live concert in 1998. While the participants in the past few years have been less impressive, Carey's lineup included Céline Dion, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, and Shania Twain.
 8. She knows the biz inside out. Carey was married to Tommy Mottola, the former head of Sony Music Entertainment and Columbia Records, for four years (1993-1997). It's safe to say that during this time Carey was privvy to information about the inner-workings of the music biz that very few young stars know.
 9. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is the most-downloaded holiday song ever. It has sold 2.1 million copies in America alone, while the album it's on, Merry Christmas, has sold nine million copies worldwide.
 10. She has amazing hair. It's so big, and full of music industry secrets!

A timeline to the "American Idol" beef

This is "American Idol"! And, come Wednesday, fans will finally get to see what really went down between new judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey as "AI" taped auditions late last year. With reports of on-set cat fighting and verbal hair-pulling at the judges' table, "Idol" viewers are surely wondering what will make the final cut when the 12th season kicks off. In case you missed all the drama - we're not sure how you could have - MTV News is taking a look back at all of it before Wednesday night's premiere.

February 2010
Long before they were competing for screen time on Fox, Carey and Minaj collaborated on Mariah's "Up Out My Face". Carey recruited the then up-and-coming MC to drop a verse on the track and the now frenemies both appeared to play nice in the Nick Cannon-directed clip.

July 2012
Mariah Carey is confirmed as one of the show's judges replacing Jennifer Lopez and joining longtime pal Randy Jackson.

September 2012
After making the rumored shortlist alongside Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, it is announced that Minaj, along with Keith Urban, would both replace the kooky Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez for the show's newest season and lineup.
 And just as Nicki was confirmed, there were already rumors that Carey and Minaj weren't playing nice. However, Carey shot the beef talk down at the judges' first official press conference in New York City. "How are we gonna feud in two days? A feud takes a little longer to spread out than that," she said.

October 2012
"A little longer" turned out to be only two weeks later, when the women were videotaped arguing during an audition round in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 2. The headline-making spat escalated to a curse-filled war of words where Minaj told the room, "I told them, I'm not f---ing putting up with her f---ing highness over there."
 One day later (October 3), Ryan Seacrest noted that the war of words went "too far" but that same day the two performers played nice when they judged talent in North Carolina without any further incidents and continued along to Louisiana that same week, also keeping their cool in front of "Idol" cameras.
 But, on October 4, Carey called Barbara Walters and addressed the incident. Walters recalled her conversation with the chart-topper, sharing on "The View", "Mariah says she can't take a chance and she has hired extra security. Nicki has not apologized, but they have since been at meetings with producers and judges."
 Hours later, Minaj took to Twitter to comment on allegations that she had threatened Carey with a gun. "Hey you all. Lets just say Nicki said something about a gun. People will believe it because she's a black rapper. Lmao. I'll then hit up Barbara and milk it," she wrote.

November 2012
Once the dust eventually settled, or at least appeared to, Nicki opened up a bit about the beef during her TV special, "My Truth". She gave some insight into what spurred the fight, "Carey's admitted that she did not want another female doing the show, thinking somebody's coming to steal her shine."
 Days after the special aired, she talked to MTV News about the verbal brawl, noting that in the handful weeks since the video leaked "we've been fine".

January 2013
While Minaj remained tight-lipped about the incident in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Carey did have something to say about it. "Sometimes things get heated for their own reasons," Carey said. "I don't think the panel has an issue."
 But, with only days until the show premieres, they seemed to (sort of) make peace last week, during the 2013 Winter TCA tour, where they were separated by just one seat filled by Urban. "Time heals all wounds," Carey said. Minaj, who reportedly had a blank look on her face for much of the event, jokingly added, "And we watched my sex tape," referencing to the reported video that has been rumored to exist for several years. "We're professionals. Have you ever had an argument with someone you work with?"
 And, the rapper even had a compliment or two for Carey. "She's one of my favorite artists of all times," Minaj later added. "She's really shaped a generation of singers. To be on a panel with her, it's kind of crazy. All the singers come in aspiring to be Mariah, in terms of talent and in terms of career length."
 In an episode of her talk show airing Tuesday (January 15), Nicki talked to former "Idol" judge Ellen DeGeneres about the rumors that spread before she even started taping the show. "I was just like sitting there, and I guess before I went in there I heard all the stuff that was being said, but I didn't believe it. I heard them saying 'Mariah doesn't want you on the panel' but I was like, 'No. I am friends with Mariah.' I was like arguing people down. Like, 'Don't believe everything you read, you're crazy.' And so I went there and I started to feel a bit of the shade. And I just kind of overcompensated by being crazier."

 "Idol" returns on Wednesday, January 15, at 8 p.m. on Fox.
(MTV News)


A special American Idol page will be added to the forum for you collectors who want to download the show! 

What Idol Judges Bring to the Table

Before resuming their task of finding the next American Idol, the new judging panel — Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban — sat down for a lightning-round Q&A:

What does each of you bring to the panel?
Minaj: "Kooky."
Urban: "An authenticity in my opinions on somebody. I'm probably a little harder on the country artists, because there's a lot of caricature-ish country people and I think country often gets a bit of a novelty persona unnecessarily. I love this genre. It's sort of my life, so I get protective of it."
Jackson: "Love, duty, glue. Daisies (pointing to the designs on his shoes)."
Carey: "I feel I bring experience, but also a certain kind of compassion that comes from a place of just as a little girl always feeling insecure, always feeling different, always feeling like I had to strive for this because I wasn't good enough as a regular human being because i had biracial parents, no money."

Who's your favorite Idol singer?
Minaj: "I was obsessed with Jennifer Hudson and I remember specifically feeling Simon (Cowell) was way too hard on her and I kept on screaming at the TV, 'How are you not hearing this girl's amazing voice?' When she became Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson, I felt proud like I was a family member."
Jackson: "And that was a tough season for her, too, because the girl that won had probably one of the greatest performances ever on the show. That was Fantasia's season. That Summertime."
Urban: "How about Kelly (Clarkson)? We're talking about 12 years later and her career has never been as massive as it is right now."
Carey: "I love Fantasia. There's a heart in her."
Jackson: "Daughtry's great. Phillip Phillips is doing amazing."

What change would you make to the show?
Minaj: "I would give them a bigger selection of songs to sing."
Jackson: "Yeah, dude. Those songs."
Carey: "And more time to learn them, if possible. I guess that's part of the challenge: Can you learn this in one day? You've never heard it. It's from 40 years before you were born and you've got to sing it with four people who don't sound anything like you. So, a little tough."
Urban: "This season has done what I would have done a little differently, which is have a little more diversity from the four of us, because we're all coming from such different places and I love seeing that extreme diversity from people who are actually doing this right now."

How good are you at letting people down?
Jackson: "I'm excellent. Walk through the door. 'No. Don't even open the mouth. No.' "
Minaj: "You need that, though. If it's about changing their diapers and patting them on their bums and powdering them, then I mean ...."
Urban: "And that's just Ryan."
Carey: "They're definitely not going to get coddled by the public. That's the thing. If you enter this business, the public is not going to go, 'Baby, poor baby.' "
Minaj: "The public is going to be a billion times harder than we could ever be. That's not helping when we don't tell these people the truth."
Urban: "I find the hardest part is when someone, they walk on, they've got a great voice, they're photogenic, they sing in tune, you can't really fault them, but they're just completely forgettable. I don't know what to say."

Do you have a favorite judge on another TV music show?
Minaj: "Oh, my God. Did you really just ask that? I didn't know you were that slick."
Jackson: "Are there other music shows on TV?"
Carey: "There's a lyric that says, 'Only God can judge me.' His name was Tupac."
Jackson: "I love that guy on Cake Boss."
Urban: "Donald Trump."
Minaj: "Listen, if it's not Judge Judy, I don't care."

How do you think Idol will affect your career?
Carey: "Hopefully, it will be good."
Urban: "We'll get back to you on that."
Jackson: "When I drop my giant single with all of them on it, it's going to be hot."
Minaj: "I don't think I did this to help me in the hiphop world at all. I've been able to, thank God, create a brand that's bigger than the hiphop world, but I'm very proud of the hiphop world and I would hope it would be proud of me.

Does anything about your fellow judges surprise you?
Urban: "How funny Nicki is."
Minaj: "It's weird because Keith and I wound up sitting together a lot. And we wound up having a really great bond because we get to have all our inside jokes together. It really, really helped."
Carey (to Jackson): "I thought we had inside jokes."
Jackson: "Well, we do. We do. I think we all have like inside jokes."
Carey: "We have inside jokes the way you guys have inside jokes. So, there's like different sets of the inside."


Sunday, January 13, 2013


Lambs be sure to stop by the VIP media forum for a hot Dubstep remix of All I Want For Christmas Is You, and a ton of new posts of artists not affiliated with Mariah like Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Ke$ha, No Doubt, Ellie Goulding, Bruno Mars and more! Remember if you aren't a member you can NOT access the VIP section.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Atlanta American Idol Event!

Some lucky Atlanta fans got a sneak preview of the new season of "American Idol" on Wednesday. Season 12 isn't set to premiere until January 16, but local fans at the AMC Sugarloaf Mills were treated to an advance showing of the premiere.

The super "Idol" fans also got to submit questions and be part of a live Q&A with Ryan Seacreast and the judges from Hollywood.

This season is the first to feature new judges Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban. Randy Jackson also returns to the judging table.

Other tidbits:
Season 4 runner up Bo Bice attended the event. He was very down to Earth and festive with all of the AI fans, rooting for his new favorite judge Keith Urban via twitter.

There was complimentary Popcorn and coca-cola given to the audience, as well as some local Falcons memorabilia.

At the end of the evening as you exit the auditorium Fox passed out American Idol t-shirts and Hats.

Mariah's OPI Update!

Mariah's beautiful OPI nail pollish collection is available in the USA at most Ultra retailers. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nicki, Mariah make half-hearted attempt to get along

After half an hour spent cooling their heels and speculating which new diva was causing the delay of Fox's "American Idol" Q&A session, TV critics finally got to ask Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj whether the audition brawl leaked to TMZ in October was the real deal or a trumped up gag to goose show ratings.
 "We're professionals. Have you ever had an argument with someone you've worked with?" said Minaj, dressed in a pretty, beige, clingy dress, and Louboutin heels so high she had to be walked to her seat on stage. "This was sort of one-sided," interjected Carey, her saintly smile hovering above a double strand of diamonds, above her equally clingy strapless emerald green minidress. "No, it wasn't," snapped Minaj.
 One day after ABC News aired Babs Walters' interview with Carey in which she reitered a claim she made back in October about hiring a body guard to protect her from Minaj's camp, Carey told TV critics "The fighting is what it is. This is 'American Idol'. It's bigger than... some stupid trumped-up thing" which was distracting from the singers and not fair to them.
 And yet, interjected Minaj, every time she tries to talk about the contestants to reporters, they insist on pulling her back into conversation about the feud, the tape and TMZ. Yeah - poor Nicki. One critic asked each woman to say something nice about the other. While the crowd held their breath, Minaj began, calling Carey one of her favorite all-time artists, and the shaper of a generation of singers.
 Carey seemed to have more trouble talking about something other than herself, but eventually got around to talking about working with Minaj on a single and realizing Minaj was an artist who would go far. That single: "Up Out My Face", Carey said, calling it "ironic".
 One critic wondered how they came to kiss and make up. "I put on my sex tape," Minaj responded. "And, there is it," Carey said, rolling her eyes. The cacophony that ensued made it hard to understand what the two women were saying. Carey appeared to be talking about everyone being able to agree on the wonderfulness of her new shoes - also Louboutins only strappier and not so high as Minaj's, and with little puffs at the toe. Minaj, meanwhile, continued to discuss the merits of her sex tape as a peacekeeping device.
 Finally they appeared to run out of gas, or remembered press was in the room. Anyway, they stopped and caught their breath, and let someone else on the panel speak. Like exec producer Trish Kinane, who said they welcomed the vigorous (sometimes body-guard employing) give-and-take.
 "We wanted judges who were experts and had a right to be here, and we also wanted honesty," she said, adding. "I think we've got it. They're not shrinking violets, they say what they think, and we encourage that." Speaking of that, Minaj got asked about the trouble rappers have had competing on "Idol" and responded that rappers should not go anywhere near this competition.
 "I would never go on a show like this as a rapper," she said. "I don't think it's authentic and if you're looking for people to believe you, and see you as an authentic rapper, you wouldn't do it," she said, noting she "started off in the streets", which is as it should be for a hip hop artist.
 Guess what? Carey jumped in and said she too "never would have wanted to do this type of show - no offense to the show," and that she started out sleeping on the floor of the studio, and only owned two dresses - one black and one pink.
(Washington Post)

Mariah: "We're putting the 'fun' back in dysfunction"

"American Idol" officially kicked off on Tuesday morning at the 2013 TCA in Pasadena. That's where new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban took the stage to face the critics - and there were plenty of them: those who had stuck by the show for more than a decade, hoping to find the next superstar, as its tagline boldly stated.
 This year, the slogan has changed to "Everyone dreams, 'Idol' delivers", but where the press was concerned: the new batch of contestants take a backseat to the drama of the judges' panel. Indeed, it took about three questions before the much-blogged about "feud" was mentioned. The two who clashed - Carey and Minaj - smiled some, deflected a lot, but in the end, had a couple of nice things to say about each other.
 "This is a very passionate panel, there are a lot of strong personalities," said Carey who noted that at the start of the process it became clear that there could be "differences of opinion". As for the North Carolina rumble, which leaked out via cell phone video, "The fighting is what it is," Carey continued. "This is 'American Idol' - it's bigger than all that. It's bigger than some stupid trumped-up thing."
 That's not to say that anything about the clash was staged. In fact, Fox president of alternative programming Mike Darnell went out of his way to emphasize, "It's authentic." Added executive producer Nigel Lythgoe: "Two of them were always angry." And FremantleMedia's Trish Kinane pointed out that the "Idol" audience was asking - even begging - the producers for one thing above all else: "They told us they wanted honesty," she said.
 With that in mind, Minaj and Carey were both asked to say something nice about each other. Minaj went first: "I say nice things about Mariah all the time, she's one of my favorite artists of all-time, she's really shaped a generation of singers. To be on a panel with her, it's kind of crazy because these singers aspire to be a Mariah Carey. So I feel excited to see them so excited."
 Replied Carey, pointing out that the two of them worked together early in Minaj's career: "That was obviously a sweet thing to say... I know and feel that she's going to go very far and am grateful for anything nice that she or anyone says about me."
 But when it comes to their jobs: finding promising talent and launching a music career, they take that responsibility very seriously and it shows. Perhaps no better example was offered than when Minaj recounted her own experiences watching the show at home. "I didn't like when people would be overtly passive," she said. "We're here to do a job. I don't put someone through because of a great story or because there's something going on that may make people cry... I didn't really have a problem saying no because we're looking for the best of the best. It brothers me when someone says yes and don't deserve it."
 Hallelujah to that! But in the end, it was Mariah Carey who nailed the "Idol" dynamic in one punchline: "We're putting the 'fun' back in dysfunction."

Idol Judges hit the cover of TV Guide Magazine

Download: Nightline Interview

Mariah's exclusive interview with Barbara Walters on ABC's Nightline, with no tags. 

Mariah Carey flaunts her flat tummy in bikini

She dropped 70 pounds after giving birth to her fraternal twins, Monroe and Moroccan. And nearly two years later, Mariah Carey flaunted her flat tummy and ample cleavage in a red bikini on an Australian beach this week. The 42-year-old pop star flew Down Under with her husband Nick Cannon and "Dem Babies" after their Christmas holiday in Aspen in order to perform a series of shows in the Gold Coast, Sydney, and Melbourne.
 The former Jenny Craig spokeswoman, who kept her tiny denim mini-skirt on for the candid snap, appeared to be enjoying her sandy break from the mini-tour. Mariah has received lackluster reviews for her shows, which critics have labeled "awkward", "unrehearsed", and "uneven".
 For her concert at the Gold Coast Convention, Mariah arrived late and stopped the music at one point due to technical problems, according to the Toronto Sun. "I'm not asking for the moon and the stars," Carey said onstage. "There's a lot of sound problems going on here. I don't know if it's me or you, or something in the air, but can we fix it?"
 The Grammy winner with the five-octave vocal range will soon return to the set of the 12th season of American Idol, which premieres January 16, alongside judges Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban. However, Mariah felt it was so "unsafe" working with the outspoken Super Bass rapper, she beefed up her security team while working on the Fox talent competition.
 "It felt like an unsafe work environment," she told Barbara Walters on Good Morning America Monday. "Anytime anybody's reeling threats at somebody, you know, it's not appropriate. I'm a professional - I'm not used to that type of environment." Carey added: "Sitting there on the road with two babies, I'm not going to take any chances."
 According to Radar Online, Minaj snapped at the Vision Of Love crooner during the October auditions in North Carolina. "I'm not f***ing putting up with her highness over there - figure it the f*** out, figure it out," the 30-year-old singer allegedly said.
 Nicki reportedly threatened to pull a gun on Mariah, but she has since denied the claim. "For all the drama, I hope it helps the show," the mother-of-two told Walters. 'I think it's a classic, classy show and it didn't need this." She is also working on her new album, due out in March.
(Mail Online)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mariah Carey talks music, motherhood and more

In the two decades since she burst onto the scene, Mariah Carey has produced more chart-topping singles than Elvis. With more than 200 million albums sold, she is now the best selling female artist of all time. In a tucked away corner of her palatial New York City penthouse are Grammys, Vibe awards, World Music awards - accolades from an unparalleled career.
 The singer, who is expected to release a new album in the coming months, sat down for an exclusive interview with ABC's Barbara Walters to talk about her music, being a mother to twins and what's in store for her future. We're used to seeing Carey on stage, belting out her music with a voice of staggering power and range. But starting next week, she will be judging the singers, instead of being the singer, as a new judge of "American Idol".
 And her star power doesn't come cheap. Although she wouldn't confirm it, Carey is reportedly being paid $18 million a season. "I think we're in the ballpark, but I can't even talk about those things," she told Walters. But it's not only Carey's salary that is drawing attention these days. It's her relationship with fellow "Idol" judge, Nicki Minaj.
 In October, TMZ released a video of a heated argument between the two divas during an audition in North Carolina. After the cameras were off, Carey claims others heard Minaj take it even further and say, "If I had a gun, I would shoot that bitch," as Walters reported on her daytime talk show, "The View".
 "It felt like an unsafe work environment," Carey said. "Anytime anybody's reeling threats at somebody, you know, it's not appropriate. I'm a professional. I'm not used to that type of environment." As a result, Carey said she hired more security. "I just felt it was the appropriate thing to do," she said. "Sitting there on the road with two babies, I'm not going to take any chances."
 Minaj has denied saying anything about a gun, calling the statement a "fabrication". When ABC News asked her for comment for this story, her representative said "she's said what she's saying on this topic". "For all the drama, I hope it helps the show," Carey said. "I think it's a classic, classy show and it didn't need this."
 The public battle with Minaj is not the only challenge Carey faced recently. Nick Cannon, her husband of five years and the host of the rival competitive singing show, "America's Got Talent", suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized for kidney failure last year.
 "It was very serious, but he's got some great doctors who really got in there and helped him out and at this point he is doing great," she said. "He's better than ever." His struggle with that life-threatening illness inspired her recently released song, "Triumphant". "I was just trying to encourage people to never give up and to get through and to persevere," Carey said. "And that's what the meaning of 'Triumphant' was to me."
 The couple have something else to rejoice over: Their 20-month-old twins, a girl named Monroe and a little boy named Morrocan. "I call her Miss Monroe, and that kind of dictated her personality," Carey said of her daughter. "She's a total diva. She's into jewelry. She's fascinated by jewelry." Her son's nickname, she said, is "Rock". "He's my pal," Carey said. "He'll just watch movies with me. We've watched 'Shrek' I don't know how many times. We watch movies all the time together, relax. He's more chill."
 The power couple recently celebrated the twins' first birthday in true diva style with a family trip to Paris, where they renewed their vows on the Eiffel Tower. In fact, they renew their vows every year. "Nick is just as festive as I am," Carey said. "I'm very, very festive, and he kind of almost trumps me there."
 Despite the glamorous trips, Carey is trying to stay close to home, for now, to spend quality time with the kids. She said she and Minaj have made up, and she is looking forward to the return of "American Idol" for its 12th season next week. "For me, ultimately, this is about the kids, the contestants," Carey said. "I've been blessed to live my dream more than half my life, so I want help give that back to someone else."
(ABC News)

Mariah TV Update!

January 7, 2013
Nightline (Interview with Barbra Walters)
ABC - 11:35PM

January 8, 2013
The Chisme Club (Repeat)
TR3S - 1:00AM

January 13, 2013
Mariah Carey Takeover
Fuse - 6:00AM - 10:00AM

January 16, 2013
American Idol (Season Premiere)
Fox - 8:00PM

January 17, 2013
American Idol
Fox - 8:00PM


Mariah Carey Talks Twins: Monroe’s a Total Diva and Moroccan's My Pal

Looks like Mariah Carey has a little mini-me on her hands!

Speaking with Barbara Walters in a new Nightline interview, the legendary songstress opens up about her and hubby Nick Cannon's 20-month-old twins, a girl named Monroe and a little boy named Moroccan.

And Monroe is just like her mama.

“I call her Miss Monroe, and that kind of dictated her personality,” Mariah says of her daughter. “She’s a total diva. She’s into jewelry. She’s fascinated by jewelry.”

As for Moroccan, whose nickname is “Rock,” he’s a little more laid back.

“He’s my pal,” the "Triumphant" singer shares. “He’ll just watch movies with me. We’ve watched Shrek I don’t know how many times. We watch movies all the time together, relax. He’s more chill.”

It was because of her two babies (she also refers to them famously as “dem babies”) that Mariah felt it necessary to hire more security when she got into a heated argument with co-American Idol judge, Nicki Minaj, during an audition in North Carolina in October. Mariah claims others heard the hip-hop singer threaten to “shoot” her if she had a gun.

“I just felt it was the appropriate thing to do. Sitting there on the road with two babies, I’m not going to take any chances,” she says, adding, “It felt like an unsafe work environment. Anytime anybody’s reeling threats at somebody, you know, it’s not appropriate. I’m a professional. I’m not use to that type of environment.”

She continues, “For all the drama, I hope it helps the show. I think it’s a classic, classy show and it didn’t need this.”

And the drama is something she’s certainly not concentrating on.

“For me, ultimately, this is about the kids, the contestants,” Mariah says. “I’ve been blessed to live my dream more than half my life, so I want to help give that back to someone else.”

To see Mariah’s full interview with Barbara, tune in to Nightline tonight, Jan. 7, at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC — and make sure you watch the songstress when she debuts as a judge on the 12th season of American Idol, airing Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.


LambzRus Exclusive: Inside the Australia Tour Book!

A very special thanks to Jag for sharing these! :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tommy Mottola claims responsibility for Mariah's success

It was the most sinister marriage in pop music this side of Ronnie and Phil Spector - and even today, music exec Tommy Mottola will never let ex-wife Mariah Carey be completely free of him. Married in 1993 and divorced in 1997, Carey gives this description of what it felt like to be a global pop superstar wedded to one of the most powerful men in the industry: "I longed for someone to come kidnap me back then," she said. "I used to fantasize about that a lot."
 Even after their divorce, Carey spent years working through the trauma of what she called an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. "For me, to really get out was difficult," she said. "It was not only a marriage, but a business thing where the person was in control of my life."
 And as Mottola himself makes clear in his new memoir, "Hitmaker", out January 15 - just one day before Carey makes her debut as a judge on "American Idol" - he still claims ownership over his ex.
 In October 1988, Carey was a struggling 18-year-old singer from Long Island, living in a one-bedroom in Manhattan with two roommates. She was tough, a result of her chaotic, complicated childhood. Carey was born in Huntington, LI; her mother, Patricia, was an Irish-American opera singer, and her father, Alfred, a black Venezuelan aeronautics engineer. Patricia was disowned by her family for marrying outside her race, and the couple was often the target of racially motivated attacks - their dogs poisoned, their house set on fire.
 When Carey was three, her parents divorced. She and her older brother, Morgan, lived with their mother, while her older sister, Allison, moved in with their father. As a child, Carey moved around a lot; this, coupled with her multiracial identity, caused her great confusion. "I always felt different from everybody else," she has said. "If you look a certain way, everybody goes, 'White girl'. And I'd go, 'No. That's not what I am.' " She has said she does not consider herself black or white.
 From a very early age, Carey was obsessed with music, and her mother became her informal vocal coach. At Harborfields HS in Greenlawn, LI, Carey was ditching class to work on songs with a couple of friends. She was absent so often that other kids called her "Mirage", and in her high-school yearbook she wrote that her interests were "sleeping late, Corvettes and gueidos [sic]".
 Not much time elapsed between high school and her meeting Tommy Mottola, then the 39-year-old head of Sony Music. The official version, and the one that Mottola retells in his book, has him at an industry party when Brenda K. Starr, then a B-list singer for whom Carey had sung backup, passed him a copy of Carey's demo recording; he listened to it in the car on his way home.
 "An unbelievable energy was running though me," he writes, "screaming, 'Turn the car around! That may be the best voice you've ever heard in your life!' " Three days later, Mottola called Carey in for a meeting. In truth, Carey had already been offered a $30,000 deal with Warner, but Mottola simply upped the figure by $50,000. He told her he would make her the biggest pop star in the world - bigger than Whitney, bigger than Madonna. She'd just have to get rid of her collaborator, who was also her boyfriend.
 Mottola also felt that he and Carey had "great chemistry", as he puts it. So even though he was married with two children, Carey, "flirtatious from the moment I set eyes on her", caused him to act against his better judgment. And he acted like a teenager himself, going in to work and gossiping with fellow executives about the details of his nights with Carey.
 It never occurs to him, all these years later, that the power imbalance was inherently toxic. Mottola's therapist, however, did, and repeatedly told him not to pursue his young protégée. "You don't understand!" he'd tell his shrink, according to the book. "Mariah is going to be the biggest star in the world. She's going to be as big as Michael Jackson."
 Undeterred, his therapist kept telling Mottola that Carey was still just a teenage girl, one barely out of a rough upbringing, who was in no way his equal - chronologically, mentally, emotionally, professionally. What the shrink didn't understand was that Mottola wanted exactly that: an empty vessel, someone he could create and then unleash upon the world as the ultimate Tommy Mottola production.
 After signing Carey, Mottola took control of everything: hiring Carey's producers, songwriters, arrangers. He spent $1.8 million on her debut record and when he saw the first cut of her debut video, for "Vision of Love", he demanded it be scrapped and spent another $500,000 on re-shoots. By the end of 1991, Carey's eponymous debut record had sold more than 15 million copies, making it the best-selling album of the year.
 Carey was just 21 years old. She wanted to take a break, to have a minute to enjoy her success, to party and shop and travel, but Mottola felt she needed to keep working, and back in the studio she went. "My feeling was that there'd be plenty of time for Mariah to celebrate just a little ways down the road," he writes. "I'm not talking 10 years, just a few."
 Mottola felt particularly vindicated when he escorted Carey to her first-ever Grammy ceremony, where she won two awards - and not because she was his biggest project, but because his shrink was probably watching. "I can only now wonder about the expression on my therapist's face when... she saw Mariah thank God for that first Grammy, and then Tommy Mottola for believing in her," he writes. "She could no longer call me delusional."
 After arranging a quickie divorce from his first wife, Mottola married Carey in a ceremony so vulgar that one guest called it not so much a wedding as "a coronation". Carey, then 23, watched replays of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding for inspiration, then ordered an even longer bridal train (27 feet to Di's 25) and more flower girls (50 to Di's 5 - all fans, Mottola says).
 In the book, Mottola says he remembers little of the day itself, and that later, it was one photo that stood out to him: his 12-year-old daughter in tears, hugging her 13-year-old brother. It crushed him, Mottola says - not because he was so detached from their distress, but because clearly they understood this union would end badly. "They knew in their bones what I simply couldn't feel," he writes.
 Carey would soon learn who she was married to: the more famous she became, the more Mottola constrained her. When she talked about wanting to record younger, more modern stuff - hip-hop and R&B-driven - Mottola shut her down, demanding she sing treacly power ballads such as "Hero", which she openly loathed. He made Carey do a Christmas album - Christmas, he writes, is his favorite holiday - and when she sardonically asked him if he was trying to turn her into Connie Francis, he nearly laughed in her face: "How the hell," he writes, "does she even know who Connie Francis is?"
 To this day Mottola maintains that Carey must be grateful that he forced these decisions upon her. That Christmas album, he points out, has sold more than 20 million copies. "Helloooo!" he writes. As Carey kept agitating to work with artists who were young and actually relevant, Mottola's roster was aging and decaying: Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, Gloria Estefan, the rapidly unraveling Michael Jackson - these were his priorities in a landscape dominated by alternative rock and hip-hop.
 When, in 1993, she released the single she fought so hard for - "Fantasy", a wild mash-up that sampled Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" and featured a cameo interlude by Ol' Dirty Bastard - she was proven right. Mottola clamped down even harder. Carey was relegated to the Bedford, NY, mansion he had built, a 20,000-square-foot residence replete with gourmet kitchen, recording studio, indoor shooting range and surveillance cameras everywhere. Carey had two bodyguards assigned to her at all times, even when she went to the bathroom. She called the house "Sing Sing" - a morbid reference to her caged-bird status.
 Mottola himself did nothing to soften his own image, and a 1996 Vanity Fair profile proved deadly, portraying him as an uneducated thug with questionable taste who had muscled his way to the top. The article noted that Mottola drove around in an armored limo, carried a 9mm Glock in his briefcase, and had such dubious connections that Sony Music asked the FBI to carry out a background check before hiring him. (The verdict: He was clean, his friends weren't.)
 Carey was not available for comment at the time. "She won't be talking," Mottola told the reporter. "It's not good for her; it's not good for me; it's not good for the company." In many ways that profile was the best thing that could have happened to Carey: the world now knew, and within weeks she left. "A private hell" was how she later described their marriage.
 In his book, Mottola offers a classic non-apology: "If it seemed like I was controlling," he writes, "I apologize. Was I obsessive? Yes. But that was also part of the reason for her success."
(New York Post)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Hollywood Reporter: Making Over Idol (Again)

Fox execs reveal details in their fight to reignite TV's most important show as the diva skirmish backstage simmers on slow boil.

"There's something a little more romantic about Mariah Carey shouting, 'You're going to Hollywood!,' than Nicki Minaj going, 'You made it to Northridge!' "

So cracks American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, yet here they are, on Dec. 12, deep in the suburban no-man's-land of the San Fernando Valley, about 20 miles from Grauman's Theatre, the Walk of Fame or any semblance of Hollywood glamour, except, of course, for the music giants taking their seats at the Valley Performing Arts Center: multiplatinum R&B hitmaker Carey, hip-hop artist Minaj and country star Keith Urban -- new additions for season 12 alongside the sole original judge, Randy Jackson, who also recently started co-managing Carey, with Irving Azoff. (Recounts Jackson: "We were talking about it one day, and she said, 'Dude, would you help me?' And I was like, 'I guess that might work.' ")

Everybody knows that television is the land of make-believe, and thus, this is what's called "Hollywood Week," Idol's coveted and simultaneously dreaded six-day boot camp where 279 hopefuls are put through the vocal ringer, then paraded in front of the panel of judges. This year's slogan: "Others dream, Idol delivers."

"For the record," pauses Lythgoe, who came to the valley this time for a day of boys' group auditions, "we have taken the contestants around Hollywood." No doubt the cameras were rolling.

Perception is tantamount in the world of Idol, which notched an impressive 10 straight seasons as America's No. 1 show -- and Fox's crowning achievement -- but has seen ratings decline by as much as 25 percent in the past two years, even with such high-profile talent as Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler occupying the judges' chairs (at the hefty reported price of $15 million and $10 million, respectively). The Idol franchise still is worth an estimated $8 billion, while the U.S. version averaged 17.2 million viewers an episode with a 30-second ad commanding north of $340,000 in 2012, second only to NBC's Sunday Night Football, yet it can't seem to shake the nagging stigma that it's on the way out or, worse yet, already irrelevant.

Not helping matters: a weak programming slate for Fox, which will use Glee in the post-Idol slot Thursday nights, and the fact that a newcomer like NBC's The Voice, which averaged 12 million viewers during its most recent season, is treading ever more closely to Idol's numbers, especially among younger viewers. (The X Factor seems, for the most part, to be a nonstarter, drawing an audience of about 8.7 million an episode.) Indeed, Idol's decline in dominance has been worldwide, as all three formats are competing against one another in dozens of territories.

To combat that has-been appearance, the Idol producers are taking their biggest gamble yet and have recruited a group of judges that feels like a powder keg. Make that one that already has exploded, when the panel's two resident divas let grace go by the wayside back in October, launching into the sort of expletive-filled verbal catfight you'd expect to see on an episode of Real Housewives, not the most popular, most wholesome show in America.

You could point to any number of factors contributing to Idol's audience erosion. There's the oversaturation of the talent-show format: NBC has The Voice and America's Got Talent; Fox is home to Idol and X Factor; even ABC tried its hand with Duets, featuring original Idol Kelly Clarkson along with John Legend, Robin Thicke and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, as did The CW with its fledgling series The Next. On top of that, there's the natural aging of its audience (the average Idol viewer is 48) and its more than occasionally hokey theme weeks (for example: the perennial "Song From the Year You Were Born" night) and sappy scripts. Producers CORE Media (formerly CKX, which bought 19 Entertainment in 2005 for $210 million) and FremantleMedia -- along with creator Simon Fuller and fellow executive producers Lythgoe and Ken Warwick -- might even agree with all of these points, so long as you don't deny that the show has produced stars.

"It's the biggest and certainly the most meaningful of the shows," defends Mike Darnell, Fox's president of alternative programming and the executive who gave the first greenlight to American Idol, then an offshoot of the Fuller-created British Pop Idol, in 2002. "It's the one that started it all. It has an elegance and simplicity to it. But ultimately, the fact that people can still become stars proves that Idol is head and shoulders above the others. This show has engagement, and it's engagement that creates stars.

Indeed, in spite of several high-profile underperformers (among the more memorable blunders: season one's Justin Guarini and season nine's Lee DeWyze), Idol's track record is on par with that of a well-resourced major label. About one out of every 10 acts signed becomes a hit (to compare, neither The Voice nor X Factor has seen a single contestant's song enter the top 20 of Billboard's Hot 100, and its winners, which include Javier Colon and Jermaine Paul, have all but disappeared from the field; ditto for X Factor, which has seen only one album, an EP by third-placer Chris Rene, released by a finalist). To date, Idol alums have amassed 371 No. 1s on the Billboard charts. Idol's biggest successes: season-one victor Clarkson and season four's Carrie Underwood, who have combined sales of 22 million albums. Even some of the nonwinners have thrived: the oft-cited Jennifer Hudson, who came in seventh on season three but won an Oscar for Dreamgirls in 2007, Chris Daughtry, who has notched sales of 7 million albums, and season-five runner-up Katharine McPhee, who stars on NBC's Smash.

Idol's latest rags-to-riches fairy tale? Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, whose single "Home," used as the U.S. women's gymnastics team's unofficial theme song during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, is now No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with sales of more than 2.8 million tracks, according to his label, Interscope. His debut album, The World From the Side of the Moon, released in November, has sold 377,073 copies.

Following a platinum-certified debut by season 10 winner and country crooner Scotty McCreery, Phillips' success is the product of a realignment on the music side that clearly is working, with Interscope Geffen A&M chairman and in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine providing the artist development as the series progresses. With Universal Music handling distribution and marketing, the show, more than ever, offers a legitimate launchpad to insta-success. "Idol changed drastically when Jimmy came on," says the show's longtime arranger and associate musical director Michael Orland. "In the old days, it was like musical jump rope where the contestants would do a different style every week. Inevitably, everybody had at least one horrible performance. Jimmy said, 'Let's get these people to sing who they are.' "

For years, the Idol brain trust of Darnell, Lythgoe, Warwick, Fuller and Fremantle's Cecile Frot-Coutaz (since promoted from running North American operations to CEO of Fremantle worldwide and succeeded in the U.S. by Trish Kinane, who readily admits, "There are a lot of voices in this show, but it works") had insisted that the show's real draw were the contestants, not the judges, who have minimal contact with the finalists and aren't given a vote past the audition rounds. Says Darnell: "If we have a bad year in talent, no matter how good the judges are, it won't work. So ultimately, the audience is coming and staying for the contestants."

But it seems that as the seasons have passed, so has the reliance on talent alone as a draw. At its launch, the show featured unknown judges save for a then career-stagnant Paula Abdul. Today, the focus is squarely on the high-powered panelists (season two's Clay Aiken recently said so, telling Billboard, "I don't even know if they remember there are contestants anymore"), who aren't critiquing scores of would-be pop stars solely out of the goodness of their hearts but looking to further their brands and promote their own projects in tandem. (Even Iovine jumped on the bandwagon with his high-end audio line Beats By Dr. Dre, whose headphones and speakers are featured prominently on the show.)

And the panel is being paid handsomely for it, with Carey, 43, earning a salary of $18 million, according to sources, Minaj pocketing $12 million, and less for Urban and Jackson. Somewhat shockingly, Darnell insists that despite the divas' extra handlers, glam-squad members and security detail, the show's production costs, which THR has estimated run in the vicinity of $2 million an episode, have not increased. Still, the hefty sums (which include host Ryan Seacrest's $15 million-a-year deal) don't always pay off. For every Christina Aguilera -- a bargain at $12 million a year for The Voice -- you have a one-term fail like Idol's Ellen DeGeneres, or a Lopez or X Factor's Britney Spears, the latter two who commanded $15 million but ultimately added little flavor or value to an already-stagnant TV formula. (Although it should be noted that Lopez helped stabilize ratings at first with an initial uptick: The show averaged 24.2 million viewers in January 2011, her first season as judge; compared with season nine's average -- 22.9 million -- season 10's numbers were flat.) In the case of pop star Spears, people didn't even tune in to watch the muted train wreck.

On the other hand, the exposure can do wonders for a career that's waning or an artist coming off of a long leave. Says Carey, who's finishing her 11th album with plans to launch it during Idol: "This show is such a massive, popular entity, it does help people promote their music, and at the end of the day, that's the most important thing... But this is a big departure for me because, for the most part, either I had nothing or I was my own boss."

All three newcomers say they had to be "convinced" to join Idol. New Zealand-born Urban, 45, a handsome, one-season judge on Australia's The Voice who's married to Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman, had a been-there-done-that attitude toward the TV-judging shtick. But in the end, he decided he had wisdom left to share. "I like helping artists get rid of the cheesy crap around them that they haven't yet figured out they don't need," he says. "I wish I had more of that. I had to learn a lot of it myself."

Minaj also consulted those close to her. "I had a lot of talks with people -- my family, my best friends, my label, Lil Wayne, management and then the producers," she says. In the end, it was Darnell who helped sway her. Adds the 30-year-old: "He was so lovable and made me feel so comfortable and confident. He kept saying, 'I promise we're going to protect you; you're going to love it, we're a big family.' "

Among Minaj's concerns: her cred in the rap world, for one. As an artist signed to Cash Money Records -- home to her mentor Lil Wayne, Drake, Jay Sean and DJ Khaled and a label that has sold more than 78 million albums since its founding in 1991 -- she points to "a judgmental culture in hip-hop," where "sometimes you are afraid of being too famous because it's almost, like, is that even cool? Being that accessible, someone you see on TV every week? I never pictured myself as that type of person. I'm still surprised that I decided to do it."

Probably not as surprised as Idol's incoming diva Carey was to hear of Minaj's hiring in September. According to multiple sources, the singer -- who has sold 200 million albums worldwide since her 1990 debut and is mom to 20-month-old twins Monroe and Moroccan (they've yet to visit the Idol set because "they're a little big now; they run around, and it can be dangerous," she says) -- was promised top billing as Idol's queen bee, with a J.Lo-style focus on her pedigree as a vocalist, songwriter and producer. And deservedly so: Carey's songs are among the most-performed by Idol contestants, the vast majority of whom fall far short of her five-octave range.

If there was to be a fourth judge hired, an insider tells THR, Carey was "pretty much assured" it would not be another female. Enter Minaj, part Harajuku riot girl, part cartoon caricature, all curves and sizzle and a hitmaker in her own right who boasts endorsements by Pepsi, M.A.C Cosmetics and Adidas.

And, as Carey saw for herself firsthand during the North Carolina auditions in October, Minaj also has a bit of a temper. In a grainy cell phone video, beamed around the world by TMZ and countless online outlets, the two judges are shown getting into a heated exchange, during which Minaj seemingly calls Carey "your royal f--ing highness" while Carey complains of being subjected to the tantrum of "a 3-year-old." Those were the milder epithets. According to Carey, speaking with Barbara Walters on The View the morning after the footage leaked, there might have been a threat -- possibly verbal, definitely perceived.

Looking back on the incident, which began as an impassioned disagreement over an audition, is not exactly a point of pride for any of the involved parties. When asked about the exchange, Carey says she has "yet to figure out" why the situation escalated as it did. "Sometimes things get heated for their own reasons," she evades, adding, "I don't think the panel has an issue." Minaj flat-out refuses to discuss it. (Worth noting: She also had a war of words with Tyler after he remarked that, as an Idol judge, Minaj "would have sent [Bob Dylan] to a cornfield"; the rapper interpreted the comment as racist and went on the offensive on Twitter, writing, "Why? black? rapper? what? go f-- yourself and worry about yourself babe. ... Lets [sic] make [Steven] a shirt that says 'No Coloreds Allowed' then escort him down 2 Barbara Walters so he can tell [her] how he was threatened w/guns.")

Warwick says he was "quite surprised" at the Minaj-Carey altercation "and how it took off the way it did." The TV veteran, a friend of Lythgoe's going back to their childhood in Liverpool during the 1960s, found the tussle "unnerving," telling THR: "I'm a family man with three kids. If they acted like that, it would be, 'Upstairs to bed!' Personally, I'm not over the moon that it happened. But if you asked me, as a professional, is it good for the show? The answer would probably be yes."

It's precisely that school of thought that prompts Idol fans, pundits and casual viewers alike to wonder whether the production itself is responsible for leaking the fight. To that, Lythgoe, who is seen in the one-minute clip trying to defuse the situation, has a laugh. "I don't think I would've done it so far away from the beginning of the season," he says. "Plus, it was about the judges and not the contestants, and I'm totally against that. So, no."

For good measure, Lythgoe assures that, unlike Australia's broadcast of American Idol, which is playing up the "War of the Divas" storyline (see sidebar) in a promo, he has no plans to use the footage in advance of or during the season.

Further, since everyone who works on Idol has to sign a confidentiality agreement that states in plain language that any video or audio of the show is proprietary material, an internal investigation was launched and, while the culprit never was identified, the producers came to the conclusion that it was shot from a monitor most likely by a local day hire in Charlotte, N.C. It's a problem that persists even at Hollywood Week, where a production assistant abruptly was fired and tossed from the premises Dec. 15 for snapping a photo from the side of the stage.

Darnell downplays the media ruckus. "People were talking about the way Simon Cowell and Paula feuded for years," he says. "Let's be honest, big shows get people talking, so any little thing that happens becomes controversial." Asked whether he would want Cowell back on the Idol panel, Darnell hesitates before answering: "I love Simon. I think he is an incredible judge, and that's an interesting question, but I like where he's at on X Factor."

But fight or no fight, the point persists: Idol is a family show with a strong Southern voting block that is notoriously conservative; will its audience embrace an envelope-pushing rapper with a larger-than-life persona? Even Minaj herself admits that when prodded, "I am scary and intimidating. I definitely demand respect. I'm also a sweet person. I'm a loving person. But I don't want to be f--ed with."

To that end, one needn't think back all that far -- to the 2012 Grammys, for instance, when Minaj presented an exorcism-themed performance of her song "Roman Holiday" after walking the red carpet wearing a fire-red cloak and accompanied by a pope lookalike, or to any of her videos -- to wonder: Would Minaj have to tone down her outre look to fit the Idol mold? "I could think of at least one other person that shows more cleavage and skin than me," jabs Minaj, clearly insulted by the insinuation and rolling her inchlong false lashes in the direction of the dressing room two doors down: Carey's.

"The perception of Nicki is unfair, really," defends Warwick. "Everyone thought she was just a daft, half-educated rapper. But she has got a heart, and it's starting to show, along with her intelligence, which threw some of us as well. And her eloquence and her grasp of what's going on. I think she'll surprise a lot of people." (But it must be said that, according to Idol staffers, Minaj has been late to the set every day.)

On the days this reporter visited Idol's "Hollywood" set, everyone was -- no surprise -- on their best behavior and looked to be getting along famously. Minaj, seated on the far left (in a new twist, the judges change position daily so that the panel "doesn't become staid," explains Darnell) and wearing an unexpected pair of bright red fuzzy slippers with pom-poms along with her form-fitting outfit that seemed to match her own description of herself as sweet, caring, nurturing, smart and sassy, surveyed the final picks -- one a Muslim contestant who could easily double for a post-conversion Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam and has been nicknamed (or "Nicki-named") "The Turbanator" (she refers to her favorites as "my darling"). In the final leg of a long journey that saw 100 contestants cut down to 40, she delivered a speech that was downright inspired.

As Warwick recalls: "Nicki said, 'You've seen the heartbreak of the kids who have been turned away today. … I've put it into perspective how much this meant to them. You are the lucky ones. You are the ones who are here. Don't throw it away. Don't treat it like it's not important. This is a rocket ship to stardom if you can ride the rocket.' She put it better than any script could have been written." (Asked whether he's seen Minaj and Carey interact at all, Warwick answers, "Not a great deal, no.")

For her part, Carey, alongside Jackson, seems to be relishing the role of seasoned industry player, while Urban is described by the producers as the voice of "sanity" on the panel. Indeed, his take on why it's worth the judges' time to lead these wide-eyed hopefuls into the murky waters of the music business when albums no longer sell like they used to and, thanks to rampant piracy, singles and streams have yet to make up the difference, is as pragmatic as it comes. "The business is changing right now," says Urban. "And the beauty of it is that the power is going back to the artist -- they have far more creative control, more ability to get their art out and find their audience on their terms."

(Ever the dogged optimist, Jackson, 56, name-checks the year's top sellers: "Mumford & Sons is making noise selling 600,000 records the first week, Taylor Swift did 1.2 million, Adele is going on 25 million worldwide and eight Grammys. Success still happens.")

Adds Urban: "Plus, the likelihood of actually making money, strangely enough, is greater today than back when artists got enslaved into record company deals. But ultimately, it shouldn't be about fame or money. It should be your calling. This is what you do. You don't have a choice."

Lofty words to live by, but you could say the same of American Idol, which remains the network's shining jewel by sheer power of its numbers. There's not a question of whether the show should continue, it simply does. The goal at this juncture -- after 11 years, some 150 finalists, 10 judges and hundreds of thousands of auditions, not to mention those other shows nipping at Idol's heel (both Lythgoe and Warwick insist they never watch their rivals, even for homework's sake) -- is very much the same as it was back in 2002: to up the game.

"Competition does make you pay attention more," says Seacrest. "Whether it be these performers who are competing against each other, or us looking within our genre of television, it does make you get better. You're forced to improve."

Adds Jackson: "I believe in the process. I think there's at least three or four of these kids that have huge careers ahead of them who will go on until they decide to stop. I think we're the only show of its kind that can say that."

(The Hollywood Reporter)