Monday, April 23, 2007

Sanjaya Looking to Change It Up

Sanjaya appears on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" today. Ellen chats with Sanjaya about the media scrutiny, Howard Stern and what his future plans are for his hair. Here are some excerpts:

Ellen: You're 17 years old and you're getting so much attention. You have so many people deciding about you, if they like you, if they don't like you ... Simon. How do you handle that?

Sanjaya: I just try to take everything and turn it into a positive if I can. I try to learn from everything that I can. I mean there are some very creative haters out there. They make up some really, really good stuff.

Ellen: Did it get to you?

Sanjaya: No, I mean if you let it get to you then you'll fail and you'll go crazy.

Ellen: It's a tough business. Now, when you heard about this Howard Stern thing where he was getting people to vote for you for the wrong reasons. How long ago did you learn about that?

Sanjaya: Pretty much when I first started.

Ellen: And how did that feel?

Sanjaya: I was fine with it because honestly anyone who's going to vote for me because Howard Stern told them to isn't going to vote more than twice maybe … so that's not going to make a dent in the system.

Ellen: So you felt confident in your fans and the viewers.

Sanjaya: Yeah, I was definitely where I was because of my fans.

Ellen: So your hair … did you always before you got into this did you love playing with it and changing it? Did you go through lots of hairstyles before you were on TV or did this just kind of bring it out in you?

Sanjaya: Actually, I never did anything to my hair.

Ellen: Really?

Sanjaya: I didn't care what my hair looked like before I came on ["American Idol"]

Ellen: And, then you just started having fun playing with it.

Sanjaya: I had people to do it for me ... it made it a lot easier.

Ellen: What do you think you'll do now? Do you think you'll keep changing it up like you did before or you're going to leave it like it is?

Sanjaya: I think I'll definitely change it up because it's fun …

Ellen: The Mohawk was really crazy ... but you're not going to do anything drastic to it?

Sanjaya: I don't know maybe I'll get some crazy ideas.

Ellen: Would you shave it? That would be huge.

Sanjaya: If I shaved it I would make a wig for Phil Stacey.

Ellen: That's very funny.


After seriously funny deliberation, has crowned a successor to Sanjaya Malakar, and we couldn't be happier with their choice ... Phil Stacey! Yes, yes, we do like Phil, but at this point, we'll accept anything that will get him more votes, even if it is VFTW and Howard Stern. We figure it probably won't help him more than a week, but we would love to see him make it into the Top 5 instead of Chris Richardson, the other person likely to be in the most danger this week during IdolGivesBackPalooza and its theme, inspirational songs. Nicknaming him NosPhilAtu, the site's slogan for Phil is, "We love you even if you can't be exposed to direct sunlight" and they say, "Can Phil even make it past next week? We're brave enough to give it a shot. It's a tough call, but let's try to support our undead friend, because he's the least marketable of the remaining 6. Go Phil, we love you, man!" We love you, too. Go Phil!

Meanwhile VFTW also posted this segment from "The Soup," call SanJemima:

but this earlier one from "The Soup" is even funnier:

SANJAYA MIND GAMES reports that Nielsen BuzzMetrics wanted to know what people really think when they think about Sanjaya, so they took a sample of all the blog posts about "American Idol" over a week, then focused on keyword sanjaya, then mapped out all the most closely associated words and phrases, based on proximity, frequency, and contextual relevance.

Here’s what the Sanjaya mind-map looks like (click on the graphic to enlarge it):


According to The Washington Post Sanjaya Malakar wasn't the only "American Idol" contestant from this season at last night's White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Mop-topped crooner Chris Sligh also attended as the guest of the Christian Broadcasting Network. Sanjaya was a guest of People magazine.

You can also catch clips of the two arriving at the event here and here. Note how the reporter in the first clip mispronounces the Idol contestants' names (The Washington Post misspelled Chris' last name). Guess Idolmania doesn't always extend to D.C.


After Kelly Clarkson kicked off the ASCAP Music Week at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards in Hollywood Wednesday night, rocking a sexy new do, she sat down with "Extra's" Terri Seymour for a short chat.

Simon Cowell's girlfriend asked Clarkson to weigh in on the Cowell "eyebrow raising" incident last week after Chris Richardson's shoutout to Virginia Tech. Clarkson stood up for the "American Idol" judge 100 percent. "Simon's blunt, but he's not disrespectful,"” she said. "He's blunt and he'll say what he wants, but he would never do anything like that."

Kelly also dished about her rumors of romance, telling Seymour that, despite reports, she is not dating race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. "I've met him once and it was, like, for five minutes at a race. He's really nice but we don't know each other that well!"

Instead, Clarkson revealed that she stays too busy to make time for a budding new relationship. "I guess if you find someone to make time for, you would; but so far, no one's worth taking the time for," she said with a laugh.


He had the job during Season 2 and now, according to Hollywood Reporter Esq., Howard Siegel is back, providing legal representation for all 24 Idol finalists in deal negotiations. And Siegel says his efforts make a difference for the aspiring "Idols."

Like most reality programs, "Idol" requires everyone featured on the show to sign a broad release and rights grant before auditioning. If chosen as a finalist, contestants must sign additional contracts with producer Simon Fuller's 19 Recordings Ltd., 19 Merchandising Ltd. and 19 Management Ltd. Producers get management and merchandising rights and also have an option to sign the winner and others to a recording contract with Sony BMG, though that option is not always picked up.

During the show's first season, portions of a 14-page agreement that contestants signed were leaked on a popular music listserv. In the contract, contestants granted broad exclusive rights to Fuller, including the "unconditional right throughout the universe in perpetuity to use, simulate, or portray ... my name, likeness (whether photographic or otherwise), voice, singing voice, personality, personal identification or personal experiences, my life story, biographical data, incidents, situations and events which heretofore occurred or hereafter occur ..."

Besides putting their publicity rights in 19's hands, the finalists' long-term management contracts gave the company a huge cut of any future fortunes derived from record royalties.

But Siegel says that contracts have been improving in finalists' favor since the first season and that contestants now sign "much more generous" term sheets than the typical new act with a major label. And the collective bargaining power of a single lawyer who negotiates with 19 quickly after the finalists are announced is "leverage in and of itself," he says.

Siegel's participation in the show actually dates back to its first season, when he was contacted by runner-up Justin Guarini to take a look at the agreements he was being asked to sign.

Afterward, in Season 2, Siegel says, 19 thought it would be a good idea to continue giving its finalists representation before handing them contracts. Siegel stresses that he was hired by the "Idol" contestants -- not by 19 -- after pitching his 35 years' in the music industry and experience repping Guarini. (Contestants also are free to hire additional lawyers.)

While most contestants sign their deals and perform without complaint, the show has not always stayed on good terms with its participants. After being named runner-up in the voting but becoming the breakout star of the show's second season, Clay Aiken hired Atlanta entertainment lawyer Jess Rosen and was able to extricate himself from his management contract. Other contestants, such as Season 4 finalist Mario Vazquez, have followed suit, leaving lawyers to debate whether contestants are getting a fair deal.

Gary Fine of Kleinberg Lopez Lange Cuddy & Edel in Los Angeles says he doubts much has changed since the show's first-season contract was circulated."While I'm sure having a lawyer like Howard may help some, Simon Fuller is in a unique position of leverage, and the deal terms are probably what they are," Fine says. " 'American Idol' can tout that contestants are represented and that representation may in fact otherwise improve material terms of the contestants' agreement, but I doubt that any one particular lawyer is going to achieve substantially more favorable results for one season's 'Idol' contestants than for another season's contestants."

Owen Sloane, a partner at Berger Kahn who has negotiated major recording contracts for Barry Manilow, Elton John and "Idol" Season 5 fourth-place finisher Chris Daughtry, says that the company is unlikely to mess with a winning formula and grant more favorable terms to contestants. And Sloane questions whether 19's procedure for lawyer selection for "Idol" contestants is a good thing. "Selecting someone who is cooperative with (19) and not going to rock the boat isn't a great idea," he says.

On the other hand, Sloane believes that contestants become stars only because of the show and as such are getting a fair deal. "(The show's producers) are creating value, and they want to participate in the value they are creating," Sloane says.

Siegel has participated in some of that post-"Idol" success as well. He says he continues to represent many contestants after their time on the show. Most fade into obscurity, but several, like Ruben Studdard, have found success and stuck by their "Idol" lawyer. Siegel says he enjoys the benefits of representing obscure up-and-comers on their way to stardom. "You have these young, relatively inexperienced individuals who are thrust with suddenness into the public eye at an incredible level," he says, "and it is absolutely the best reward I can experience as a lawyer to watch them adapt to new status and help them deal with pressures associated with the development."

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© 2007

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