Dave on Demand: Minaj enlivens 'American Idol,' but for how long?

Nicki Minaj (second from right) has grabbed the limelight from her fellow "American Idol" judges: (from left) Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, and Randy Jackson.
Nicki Minaj (second from right) has grabbed the limelight from her fellow "American Idol" judges: (from left) Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, and Randy Jackson. (MICHAEL BECKER / Fox)
Posted: January 20, 2013

The story line for the new season of American Idol was established almost immediately. Nicki Minaj was the last of the judges to make an appearance, emerging from her limo in a stunning drum majorette hat.

Pecking order established. Ain't no party until Ms. Nicki arrives.

She then set about dominating the program, mugging endlessly for the camera, spewing nonsense phrases, monopolizing the conversation, drifting into a bizarrely posh English accent, making up crazy nicknames for everyone on the set, and visually fondling every good-looking male contestant.

She unleashed the full Minajerie right up front, like some techno-color Mae West.

Mariah Carey put up some token resistance, as any self-respecting diva would. But by the time of the second episode, despite some scratching and clawing, Carey had all but submitted. It appeared as though she wasn't even wearing makeup in Chicago.

The fact that American Idol in its 12th season has mutated into Nicki's show is an interesting development. She's the most candid judge since Simon the Impaler. After two years of constant coddling from Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, Minaj's frank assessments are a godsend. She will unapologetically reject singers just because she doesn't like the way they look.

Yes, she's a real wild card. Unlike anyone else who has ever held the seat, you can see she genuinely relishes the freaks. In fact, she actively eggs on the lunatic fringe, like the guy from Sinking Springs, Pa., with the red vinyl outfit that squeaked loudly every time he moved. Maybe she just dug his lustrous wig.

Will the addition of Minaj help Idol reverse its steep ratings decline? Not a chance. That cast has died.

The constant shuffling of celebrity judges on these talent competitions, particularly Idol, is like putting new upholstery covers on an old sofa. It's still saggy in all the same places.

Minaj is amping up the energy level on Idol, but I worry that she'll quickly grow bored with the gig - like before the Hollywood rounds are over.

But even if she stays engaged, all Fox has done is hire someone with bigger and more outrageous hats to captain its Titanic.

A contagious performance. How about we just appoint Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to cohost every awards show on television, from the Teen Choice to the Heismans?

Saturday Night Live's onetime Weekend Update anchors were so sharp together at the Golden Globes. I could fill the column with examples of their wit, but my favorite was Poehler's line: "Meryl Streep is not here tonight. She has the flu. And I hear she's amazing in it."

Buttoned down. Jimmy Kimmel has interviewed more cast members from The Bachelor/ette and Dancing With the Stars franchises than any man alive. He's clearly learned a thing or two in the process.

This week he described one of his guests, Sean Lowe, as "the most shirtless bachelor ever. . . . There are more clothes in Magic Mike than on The Bachelor this season."

He went on to say, " The Bachelor is a show based on the theory that one in 25 hairstylists is your soul mate."

What's your emergency? When 30 Rock goes off the air in a few weeks, where are we going to get our weekly fix of loopy, anarchic humor?

This week, Jack (Alec Baldwin) was in Florida to settle his late mother's estate. He urgently dialed the police from her retirement community and got this recording:

"Thank you for calling Florida Emergency Services. If this is regarding an anaconda in a crawl space, press one. If a sinkhole full of Indian bones has appeared in your living room, press two. If you want to know why JAG wasn't on this week, press three."


Contact David Hiltbrand

at 215-854-4552, dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.

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