Could there be a dark cloud hovering over American Idol? There never seems to be a shortage of bad news, rumors, or speculation.
As usual, there are a few problems with contestants who made it in thetop 24 this week. Just as quickly as Todrick Hall received the good news thathe had made the cut, he was met with complaints regarding children'sproductions he directed prior to his Idol experience.
Several parents who paid a $50 audition fee to have their childrenparticipate in the production "Oz, The Musical" that Hall wrote, are upset thatthe Idol hopeful failed torefund their money after the project fell apart.
AP interviewed a half a dozen parents including Greg Money, a Dallas businessman, whohad his three daughters in the production. "They were fabulous, just wonderful productions, and the kids just really loved them," Money said. Money was so impressed that he ended up helping finance an adaptation of "Oz" that featured professionals and toured Texas cities. But it turned outto be a "financial disaster."
Hall generally confirmed Money's accounts in a phone interview withAP. Diana Messner, a Pittsburgh mother who paid to have two of her childrenappear in one of Hall's productions, told AP she received an email reply fromHall in July 2009.
According to Messner, Hall was concerned about his reputation andsaid he was "doing everything" in his power to return the money. But he claimedthat as the director, it was not his direct responsibility to do so.
Jennifer Davis, a dance studio owner in Lakeland, Floridasaid she did not think it would be fair if Hall ended up becoming the nextAmerican Idol.
There is no word whether Idol officials will hold Hall's businesshandlings against him, but a prior musical commitment for another Idolcontender has resulted in a sad ending.
Chris Golightly, who made the top 24 cut this week, received theunfortunate news that he was going homeafter all. Golightly was accused ofproviding false information on his American Idol application.
When the form asked if he was under contractual obligations, heanswered no.
But he was previously under contract as a member of a boy band namedD.R.E.A.M. Because the contract was set to expire in June 2009, one monthbefore the Idol auditions began; he informed the Idol reps and assumed all wasokay. But last week he received the call that he was being eliminated. ThoughGolightly was able to provide a copy of the contract, which was initiallymisplaced, the producers reportedly did not take it into consideration.
It was definitely depressing news for the promising singer who grewup as a foster child and gave up his apartment and sold his car to pursue hisIdol dreams.
I don't know if this will make Hall and Golightly feel any better,but the dramas sometimes follow those who even win the competition. AmericanIdol season 3 winner Fantasia Barino had her own issues last week.
On Thursday, February 10, Fantasia made her Los Angeles debut as Celie in the stageversion of "The Color Purple." She received reviews for her opening nightperformance.
But the following night, Fantasia called insick. She was reportedly suffering from aninflammation of her vocal cords, the Los AngelesTimes reported. She was advised by her doctorto sit out of her scheduled Saturday and Sunday performances as well.
When attendants arrived to the Pantages Theater on Hollywood Blvd., theywere informed of the leading lady's absence and given an opportunity toexchange their tickets for an alternate night or to view the show featuring herunderstudy instead.
The cancellations for the three-week engagement sparked memories of the60 days Fantasia missed during her Broadway run. Earlier this month, sheappeared on The OprahWinfrey Show and explained the cause forthe east coast no-shows that cost the production $500,000 in returned ticket sales.She cited the stress of financial problems, having two tumorson her vocal cords that threatened her ability tosing, and the emotional baggage of portraying a character that is verbally andphysically abused by her stepfather and husband.
After missing three shows in Los Angeles, Fantasia returned to work Tuesday. To helpaccommodate fans who opted to trade their tickets for a different date,Fantasia will pick up a couple matinee shows that were previously scheduled asdays off.
Fantasia responded to her absenteeism via statement. "This verychallenging time...is a journey-both with my health and in the role of Celie," shesaid, the Los Angeles Times reported. She added that she was eager to return towork. "[I was] overjoyed to get the OK from my doctor and new vocal coach tocome back and perform. My fans and this show are very important to me."
Simon Cowell, one of Fantasia's favorite American Idol judges, respondedto some of his own rumored dramas this week. Since theannouncement that he will likely leave the hit reality music competition afterthis season, there has been a lot of speculation about who would take hisplace. One of the potential candidates that has been making the news is HowardStern.
In his typical no-holds-barred fashion, Cowell offered his honestopinion about whether or not Stern would make a good Idol judge. From Cowell'spoint of view, an idol judge should be someone who has had success inidentifying talent and making stars. He noted that the original make up of theshow included an artist, producer, and A&R guy, and added that Stern's workas a radio personality did not necessarily qualify him to make a good judge,but he thought blog mogul Perez Hilton, was quite funny and had good taste inmusic.
Cowell also dismissed rumors that he and new judge Ellen DeGenereswere not getting along, saying that things reported were exaggerated. Cowellconfessed that he did miss not having Paula Abdul on the show. He described heras a friend that he spent a lot of time with outside of the show.
In other Idol news, season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert did have achance to be judgmental, but instead of critiquing a performer he chastised a fanat a recent show.
When Lambert realized that a concertgoer in the front row wastalking on the telephone during his set, he could not resist calling attentionto the rudebehavior.
In the middle of performing "Whataya Want From Me," Lambert stoppedsinging to spew, "Ok wait, sorry. Can you get off your phone? ... You're notwatching TV, honey. It's a live show." Interestingly enough, the Lambert fanwas interviewed after the show and revealed that she was on the telephone withher grandmother who is a die-hard Glambert. She wanted to let her grandmotherget a live dose of Lambert."
Poor cell phone etiquette also struck a bad chord this week with themother of R&B singer Ashanti.A crazed fan sent her obscene text messages and nude photos revealing fantasieshe had about her daughter.
A judge found Devar Hurd, 31, guilty of the misdemeanor charges and sentencedhim to a 2 year jail term. Ashanti's mother, Tina Douglas,said she felt "justice had been served."
But Douglas wasn't the onlycelebrity parent to get good news from a judge this week. Michael Jackson'sfather, Joe Jackson, was pleased Friday when a Los Angeles Superior Court Judgeruled that the elder Jacksoncould receive some of his late son'smedical records.
Jacksonwants to have a medical expert review the documents in part to help his case toobtain a stipend from his son's estate. According to the ruling, the expertcould review, but not copy the records.
Pop star Chris Brown had a great dayin court Thursday. Los Angeles SuperiorCourt Judge Patricia M. Schnegg applauded Brown for not missing any of hisdomestic violence counseling classes and 32 days of community labor.
"It looks like you're doing really, really well," Schegg said."That's always good to see."
We wish Brown, Fantasia, Cowell, Ashanti, and Joe Jackson the best.There is an art to damage control, and it is good to see that these guys havelearned how to work it. Now let's see how long they can stay on track. Checkback next week for an update.
THIS WEEK's TOP 10 NEWS STORIES
1) Rumor Mill - SimonCowell talks Stern, DeGeneres, and Abdul.
2) Back In TheSaddle - Tyler to join Aerosmith in upcoming dates.
3) Rock TheVote - LMFAO member feuds with 2008 Presidentialcontender.
4) WelcomeHome - Sade's comeback album debuts at No. 1.
5) Changed Man - Judgesays Chris Brown is doing a good job.
6) Here We GoAgain - Fantasia schedules make-ups for missed TheColor Purple shows.
7) You Got ToFight - Joe Jackson wins access to son Michael'smedial records.
8) Hard To SayGoodbye - Historic Abbey Road Studiogoes on sale.
9) Can YouHear Me Now? - Adam Lambert tells concertgoer to get offthe phone.
10) Called IDBlock - Ashanti's text stalker gets 2 yearsin jail.