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Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey ‘get nasty’ on ‘American Idol’ set

NEW YORK NY - SEPTEMBER 24:  Nicki Minaj attends Nicki Minaj 'Pink Friday' Fragrance Launch Event Macy's Herald Square

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Nicki Minaj attends the Nicki Minaj "Pink Friday" Fragrance Launch Event at Macy's Herald Square on September 24, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

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Updated: November 5, 2012 11:32AM

Sounds like things are getting increasingly tense between “American Idol” judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. While the two music superstars appeared to at least quietly tolerate each other during their recent Chicago “judges round” at the Adler Planetarium here, it seems the relationship between the two divas got a lot testier during the stop in Charlotte, N.C., this week.

As first reported by TMZ, a dispute over a contestant’s talent quickly ramped up into an all-out rant by Minaj, who shouted that she’s “not f---in’ putting up with Her F---ing Highness over there.” Carey supposedly added verbal fuel to the contentious argument.

A source with knowledge of the ongoing Mariah-Nicki feuding said Wednesday, “This is really starting to get nasty. … A bit of controversy is OK — even good — because it adds spice to the show. However, if it gets too intense and their true dislike for each other becomes obvious — and continuously obvious — then that moves into the uncomfortable stage for the viewers.”

A spokeswoman for Fox and “Idol” declined to comment on the reported dust-up between the two stars, but another source — close to fellow judge Keith Urban — said the country music mainstay was particularly unhappy about the tension.

“Keith is such a wonderful, easygoing, lovely guy,” said the source. “This kind of drama was not the reason he signed on to be an ‘Idol’ judge. … He hates nastiness in any form.”

“Idol” host Ryan Seacrest said Wednesday on his radio show that he loves the bickering. “ ‘Idol’ needs some passionate debate. It did get intense. We want that. … The feedback that they give is very good.”

LOVE LETTERS: They refuse to go public with it, but Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together. The duo’s weekend “run-in” at a New York club was no accident, and I’m hearing the couple not only talk daily but are constantly trying to figure out ways — and places — where they can connect in person.

Though many of Rihanna’s fans still are horrified over the idea she can even consider going back to the boyfriend who was so abusive to her, I’m also hearing the R&B queen thinks enough time has passed and she no longer has to worry about any kind of negative fan reaction.

† Less controversially, former lovers Minka Kelly (“Friday Night Lights”) and action star Chris Evans are back together, after a couple of years’ break.

ALL ABOUT FOOD: During my quick jaunt to Minneapolis on Wednesday to chat with Kevin James and former mixed martial arts and UFC champ Bas Rutten about their “Here Comes the Boom” comedy, James joked about how hard he worked to get in shape to play a high school biology teacher turned MMA fighter. “I’ve worked just as hard — but in far less time — to get out of shape. … I’m only sorry I haven’t had a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza to help me get fat again!”

The film, with James playing a teacher who turns to cage fighting to raise funds to save his high school’s music program (run by good pal Henry Winkler), also stars Salma Hayek and opens Oct. 12.

THE NAKED TRUTH: Channing Tatum is down in New Orleans for the opening of his new Saints & Sinners club — inspired by his “Magic Mike” male stripper flick. If the sexy bar concept takes off in the Big Easy, Tatum and his partners are said to be open to the idea of taking it national, with a Tatum insider claiming, “Chicago would certainly be on the short list of places to go.”

‘ETHEL’ INSPIRES: A true Chicago Who’s Who jam-packed Columbia College’s VenueSix10 on South Michigan for a Tuesday night screening of “Ethel,” the exquisitely crafted and inspiring HBO documentary about Ethel Kennedy — created by her 11th and youngest child, filmmaker Rory Kennedy, born six months after the assassination of her father, Robert F. Kennedy.

At the event Mrs. Kennedy told me “how wonderful it is to be here, in Chicago, my hometown and a city that I love so much.”

After the screening, host and Ethel child No. 8, Chris Kennedy, and his “little sister” did an engaging Q&A led by Bill Kurtis. The bantering was great and showcased that famous Kennedy family competitive spirit. Chris quipped that “Ethel” was a “new type of documentary for Rory,” since her previous films fell into one of two categories: “sad, and those that are depressing. This is a whole new thing. I enjoyed it. It was uplifting!”

Zinged Rory, “That’s because you’re in it!”

Chris Kennedy, along with his other surviving siblings, all play key roles in “Ethel,” sharing stories about their mother and her role in the historic moments of the past half-century.

“Ethel” will debut on HBO Oct. 18.

Among those on hand for the screening were former Mayor Rich Daley, Bill and Bernie Daley, John Daley, Jo and Newton Minow, Ellen and Tom Tully, Vicki and Bill Hood, John Rogers and Marion Brooks, Msgr. Ken Velo, Paul Green, Patsy and Pat Callahan, Neil Hartigan and Ald. Brendan Reilly.

HOLIDAY NOTE: Since so many of the stores (sigh!) already are selling Christmas merchandise, I guess it’s not too early to tell you that “Grease” stars Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta have teamed up on a new holiday music album.

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