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Nicki Minaj meltdown on TMZ video: Beginning of the end?

"American Idol" season 12 judge Nicki Minaj.

"American Idol" season 12 judge Nicki Minaj. (Credit: Fox)

I normally don't pontificate on every bootleg video that finds its way to TMZ, but the Nicki Minaj one currently up and roaring across the Web almost demands it: This new panel is not going to work.

Tantrums are one thing; verbal abuse that finds it way to the cellphone of an innocent bystander, in this case probably a contestant, is another. Verbal abuse directed at the star of the table -- Mariah Carey -- is a flat-out disaster.

Now I know why they hired the fourth judge (Keith Urban): To keep the distance between Carey and Minaj.

Take a look at this nonsense and see if you agree. The problem, fundamentally, is “Idol's.” In reboot mode, it figured panel friction would enliven this flagging affair. But all it does is distract from the core mission, which is to find the “next superstar.” Admittedly no one takes that mission seriously any longer -- except maybe the contestants -- but a panel of squabbling foul-mouthed children turns it into a travesty. Yes, Britney had her occasional “X Factor” moments -- the walk-off or two -- but in hindsight those seemed more a personal statement that whatever shred of artistic integrity she had left, then -- by God -- she was going to defend it.

This one just reminds me of the stories about the days when Nicki was a waitress in the Bronx and would chase customers out the door when they stiffed her on the tip.

Why does this matter? In the broad scheme of things, it doesn't but “Idol” is the single most important TV franchise of the last decade and to watch it tumble into this abyss of complete stupidity and unprofessionalism is disturbing, to say the least. Fremantle and Fox are paying this judging panel just under $50 million this season, and for its money this? Someone needs to take control here and fast.

Nigel, in the corner of the frame meekly, and ineffectually signaling “timeout” is certainly one to do it. But if he can't control the inmates, the asylum takes over, and “Idol” turns a spin off of “Real Housewives” or “Bad Girls Club.”

 This can all fall a couple of ways, or maybe even three... Fox could relish the publicity under the heading "no  publicity is bad..." Or - more likely - this comes under an entirely different heading, "Houston, We Have a Problem." Bigger issue here is the Randy Jackson/Carey one. He's her manager and so any abuse hurled at her is hurled at him. And at what point does Carey say: Who needs this? Life really is too short.... A three judge panel in the tuture absent Minaj? I certainly wouldn't rule that out just yet. The new season is still months away....A lot can happen between now and then.

Tags: tmz. nicki minaj , american idol , mariah carey

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