Why Britney Spears' departure from X Factor may be bad news for Mariah Carey on American Idol
Britney Spears' admission that she's leaving Fox's singing competition The X Factor after one disappointing season isn't just a logical result to a high-priced showbiz failure.
When you think about it, this was inevitable. And it a tough road ahead for another high-priced, mercurial diva-turned-reality TV judge, American Idol's Mariah Carey.
Spears confirmed rumors she left the show via a statement quoted by TMZ and others: "I had an incredible time doing the show and I love the other judges and I am so proud of my teens but it's time for me to get back in the studio...Watching them all do their thing up on that stage every week made me miss performing so much! I can't wait to get back out there and do what I love most."
News that Spears was joining the X Factor drew loads of attention last year, because no one was sure who might show up: Competent Britney or Crazy Britney.
But, as it turns out, Spears decided to use X Factor to prove she could step off the crazy train and be a stable, scandal-free celebrity. The only problem: a non-singing, non-dancing, emotionally stable Britney Spears isn't really that interesting.
Fellow judges Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato seemed to work overtime to keep the judge's table interesting, while Spears worked so hard to look normal, she wasn't particularly compelling. From Paula Abdul's bouts of ditziness to Stephen Tyler's spastic rock star-isms, high-profile reality TV judges have to bring the flavor to keep viewers interested.
So Spears got $15 million to show America how boring she can be when her life is stable, and X Factor learned having a big name at the judges table is only half the battle.
Which leaves me wondering about Carey, who seems to be charting the same course in the early footage of tryouts provided to TV critics from American Idol's return episodes next week.
Fellow Idol judge Nicki Minaj isn't afraid to let her freak flag fly, picking fights with Carey while encouraging awful contestants to perform more and hitting on every man in the same zipcode.
But Carey mostly comes off as spacey and careful, wary of saying anything too sharp, too eccentric or too controversial. So she doesn't say much at all.
I wonder if Fox just cut another big check to help a wealthy diva live down her erratic reputation on national television.