'Idol' judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj play nice after feud

LOS ANGELES, Jan 8 (Reuters) - New "American Idol" judges

Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj shrugged off their widely

publicized feud on Tuesday as a "trumped-up thing" that was

merely a passionate difference of opinion over the TV talent

show's contestants.

In their first big media appearance ahead of the hit show's

return to Fox television on Jan. 16, the two pop stars showered

each other with praise while barely looking at each other.

A day after the airing of an ABC TV interview in which Carey

said she hired extra security following threats reportedly made

against her by Minaj last year, the "Hero" singer told reporters

it was time to focus on the aspiring "Idol" stars.

"This is a very passionate panel. There are a lot of strong

personalities," said Carey, who is reportedly being paid $18

million to be an "American Idol" judge.

"The fighting is what it is. This is 'American Idol.' It is

bigger than some stupid trumped-up thing. It's about the next

superstar ... The whole thing is convoluted. It's a distraction

from the show and the contestants," Carey said.

Minaj, an outspoken 30-year-old rapper, called Carey one of

her "favorite artists of all time."

"She has really shaped a generation of singers and to be on

a panel with her where (contestants) all aspire to be Mariah

Carey ... I feel excited to see them, see someone they look up

to so much," Minaj said.

Carey, 42, recalled working with Minaj in 2009 on an album

track, and knowing at the time that the rapper would be

successful.

"Nothing to write about now!" quipped "American Idol" host

Ryan Seacrest.

REVIVING AGING 'IDOL' FORMAT

Carey, Minaj and country singer Keith Urban joined "Idol" as

judges in September for the upcoming 12th season after the

departures of Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven

Tyler.

Carey, with more than 200 million album sales, and Minaj,

one of the most exciting voices in rap, are expected to revive

the contest, which last year lost its eight-year crown as the

most-watched show on U.S. television to "Saturday Night

Football" on rival NBC.

Video of the pair arguing was leaked online from early

auditions in last fall, and Minaj was reported to have said, "If

I had a gun, I would shoot that bitch."

"American Idol" executive producer Trish Kinane said the new

panel was chosen after fans said they wanted to see judges who

were current and talented in their own right.

"They (fans) also wanted honesty, and we very much took that

into consideration. They (the judges) are not shrinking violets.

They say what they think, and we encourage that," Kinane said.

"American Idol", which has produced stars like Kelly

Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, faces growing competition for TV

audiences from a slew of rivals like "The Voice," "The X

Factor," and "America's Got Talent." Last year, "Idol"

attracted under 20 million viewers, down from the more than 30

million who watched on a regular basis five or six years ago.

But Mike Darnell, reality programming chief for Fox, said

the new panel had "re-invigorated the show."

"Yes, there are too many (talent) shows on the air and they

are all taking each other down a bit. But this is still the king

of the shows and the only one that makes stars," Darnell said.

Fox is a unit of News Corp.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Paul Simao)

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