Some ousted season 8 American Idol top 36 semi-finalists--including Felicia Barton, Kendall Beard, and Ju'Not Joyner--participated in an online chat with the Idol website AI Now today. And during his frank online conversation with fans, Ju'Not came right out and said that the TV talent show is in fact rigged, and that its contracts are unfair to contestants.
"It's a fixed thing if I ever saw one," he boldly declared--much to the shock of many naive chatters, who responded with capslocked interjections and frowny-faced emoticons.
It was hardly the first time that AmIdol had been accused of wrongdoing. A book loosely based on anonymous former Idol employees' experiences with the show, Stage 46, made similar allegations last year. But few detractors have ever been as brutally honest as Ju'Not was today.
Ju'Not--who by his own account was labeled a "troublemaker" by Idol producers for questioning the contract (which he dubbed a "slavetract") that all auditioners are required by Fox/19 to sign, and was allegedly told by Idol bigwig Ken Warwick, "You're not going to ruin my show"--explained that he wanted to set the record straight today. He stated that he wanted to reveal "truth of Idol" because "Idol ain't all it is cracked up to be...It's certainly not the fairytale most think it is."
Ju'Not claimed he was cut from the competition, and not invited back for the Wild Card round (a shock to many viewers wowed by his memorable "Hey There Delilah" performance) because of his concerns regarding the fairness of the Idol contract.
"They pay for our lawyers to negotiate against their lawyer (which is BS)," he said. "They make us COLLECTIVELY choose the lawyer, then they act like it's in our best interest. Craziest stuff I've ever seen. I have a son to feed. I HAD to ask questions and know what I was signing. Plus I write my own songs and I needed to know details...Some folks were like, 'Just shut up and sign on the dotted line.' I know better than that...I wasn't complaining...I was asking basic legal questions. There's a huge difference between the two."
He continued: "I definitely believed that affected my time on the show. They didn't like the fact that I wouldn't sign 'just anything' and that other contestants were coming asking me questions. So I think they ousted me the first chance they could get...Even if I didn't get in on votes...how did I not get picked for the Wild Card show when I received comments from the 'judges' that were better than most of the contestants who were picked for the Wild Card show?"
Ju'Not also theorized that he was not selected for the top 13 because he refused to let the show's producers exploit his sympathetic "back story" of being from "the hood." Said Ju'Not: "They wanted me to put that out to the world and expose my personal business for ratings. I wouldn't do it."
While Ju'Not made it clear he believes Kris Allen is indeed talented and deserved to win this season, he also maintained that Kris's victory was fixed. "The producers know who they want and they slant it to reflect that. They fix it in a way that makes you surprised but it's still manipulated," he typed. "Think about it...ADAM, ADAM, ADAM, then...Kris....SURPRISE SMITHCHES!!!!
"What I mean is that people think AI is a talent show," he elaborated. "No. It's a reality show with writers!! We're all actors. All these shows have writers that guide the public opinion. The Hills, Real World. All of them." He even bluntly questioned the validity of the public's votes, saying, "Do you think a billion-dollar enterprise is subject to the whim of the public?"
Naturally, while some chat participants applauded Ju'Not's frankness, others questioned his motives, since few other Idol contestants have come forth with such accusations. Ju'Not explained: "No one else is complaining because a lot of the contestants don't understand how this business works. They've never had record deals or seen a record contract...I have. So I knew what questions to ask. It's kinda like ignorance is bliss. Some contestants may have thought it was just cool to be on TV, but this is my career. I take this thing VERY seriously...Very few people spoke up. They saw me as the ringleader. I'm not naming names. Because I have nothing against the other Idols."
So, was Ju'Not speaking the truth? If so, then he is to be commended for his bravery. But it's possible he was just trying to drum up publicity for the "hot" new album he's self-releasing this winter, in which case he's a typical showbiz opportunist. Or maybe he's just a bitter reject, desperately angling for a 16th minute of fame and dreaming of what might have been. All of this is up for debate.
But there is no debate that Ju'Not is, as he worded it today, "a straight-up person." He definitely went there.
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