In a new interview, FOX executive Mike Darnell discusses the feud and tension among the judges, whether Idol will stick with unlimited voting and if the judges will be any different during the live shows. Also in today’s Roundup, Scotty McCreery’s about to headline his own tour, and read on to find out how you can listen to audio samples of Colton Dixon’s debut album.

American Idol Season 12 Spoilers: Who’s in the Top 40? >>>

Will the Infamous Mariah/Nicki Blowup Air Next Week?

We knew going into season 12 that there would be tension between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, based on the leaked video and the comments they’ve made to the press. And after seeing the first two audition episodes, it’s obvious the bickering will become a recurrence in upcoming weeks. Mike Darnell, FOX’s chief of reality programming, confirms that there’s more to come. “People said the passion between the two girls was invented. It’s obviously real,” he told EW. “That’s an interesting dynamic that we haven’t seen on one of these shows before.” The battle of the divas will “ramp up,” especially since the Charlotte auditions air next week; this is the stop where the infamous blowup occurred. A question on everyone’s minds has been, will Idol air that video? Darnell is staying tight-lipped, only saying it’ll be a “very interesting episode.” Being that coy sends up red flags, don’t you think?

Voting Limits, Live Shows and New Theme Nights

Are you a fan of unlimited voting? What about the same theme nights year in and year out? Mike Darnell has opinions on all of these topics, in an interview with TVLine.

On voting limits, he says, “We’ve debated this over the years. There is a debate within the production companies even. Should you limit it, should you not limit it? I don’t have any evidence that limiting voting would change [the outcome], to be frank, although I know there’s this ‘white boys with guitars’ thing that everybody keeps talking about. … The audience, in the end, knows what it wants. And it’s important to give them what they want, because they’re the ones that are going to buy the records.” I would like to see voting limited to a certain extent, but I also wonder how much that would change the results, if at all, as Darnell suggests. But there is that “white boys with guitars thing” — and yes, Mr. Darnell, there’s a reason why it’s always talked about.

Not every judge hired for American Idol has succeeded. But those who ended up failing, so to speak, actually did start out on strong footing, namely Ellen DeGeneres and Steven Tyler. But that’s because the early rounds can be edited, whereas that luxury is not there for the live shows. Darnell agrees, but stresses that it won’t happen with this year’s panel: “Some people freeze, that’s true, when they go live. This panel will not. I am not concerned. Their real emotions come out very quickly. I don’t have a better way to say it. I don’t think they can control that part of their sensibilities.”

The women haven’t been afraid to speak their minds, especially Nicki. And Keith Urban has turned out to be quite humorous and knows how to connect with the singers who are auditioning. In a recent interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Nicki said she’s worried about the live shows because, as she puts it, “I cannot trust myself … and I don’t want anyone on the panel to say something crazy because then I don’t want to look like a crazy psycho again.” The live shows should be a blast to watch.

Season 12 will see some format changes, including the boys and girls performing separately during Hollywood Week and having a Top 10 instead of a Top 12. But what about the theme nights? Any changes in that department? “Yes,” Darnell said. “I don’t know what they’ll be yet, but yes. That is one of our goals this season.” This is a reassuring comment because the song choices need to be constantly updated so we’re not always hearing the same ones over and over again.

American Idol Chicago Auditions: The One Singer to Watch >>>

Scotty McCreery Announces Headlining Tour

After a string of White Guy With Guitar misses, American Idol struck gold with Scotty McCreery. He’s released not only a platinum album, but a Christmas record as well. And now it’s time for Scotty to take a new step in his burgeoning career: prepping for his very first headlining tour.

In a statement, Scotty said, “I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of great cities over the last year with Brad Paisley and some other great country artists. This time, I get to play some new places with a show that’s all my own. I can’t wait for my fans to see what we’ve lined up for them on my Weekend Roadtrip tour 2013.”

Fans are in for quite a concert, as he’ll be including brand new songs that will be appear on a future album, according to CMT News. There’s a total of 25 stops along the way, starting in Bethlehem, PA, on February 14. He’ll work his way along the east coast to New York, New Jersey, Florida and six other states, finishing up back in Jersey on May 12. More dates will be announced soon.

Preview Colton Dixon’s Debut Album

Colton Dixon fans, listen up: in less than two weeks, his debut album The Messenger finally hits stores. If you can’t wait until then, Yahoo has put together sample clips of all 12 songs from the record, which you can listen to below:

How does Colton describe The Messenger? “Listening to my record and listening to other CCM records, there’s a big difference. I’m definitely bringing an edge to Christian music — lyrically, and definitely musically. I just think it’s something fresh for Christian music, so I’m excited. It’s just a different style that I haven’t heard in Christian music before. It’s going to be interesting to see what Christian music fans think of the record.” If this intrigues you, then start counting down the days to January 29.

American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.