Entertainment Weekly says that Kelly Clarkson has told her manager, The Firm's CEO Jeff Kwatinetz, never again.
Barely two weeks before the release of her newest album, "My December," which has been the subject of a very bitter and public battle between Clarkson and Sony/BMG head Clive Davis, the magazine reports that Clarkson has axed Kwatinetz, who reportedly was to receive executive producer credit on the CD.
Previous reports said Davis was unhappy with the CD -- which contains dark cuts about bad breakups and staying sober and which was written entirely by Clarkson and her band -- because he felt it wasn't commercial enough. It was rumored that Davis both held up the CD's release for four months and demanded changes, but that Clarkson stood her ground, refusing to change anything. Eventually, sources claim, Davis capitulated and reluctantly green-lighted the album's release for late June. In fact, during his appearance on the Idol Gives Back telecast in late April, Davis extensively extolled Carrie Underwood's achievements, yet didn't even mention Clarkson's name, even though both singers appeared on the show.
In the May
"Summer Music Preview" issue of EW, which featured Clarkson on the cover, the singer said she told Davis, '' 'Why are we talking through people, dude? Let's just meet.' He was like, 'I agree.' So I went to his bungalow where he stays here and we had a nice talk for a couple hours. I was like, 'You don't like the music; that's cool. You don't have to love it.' There's no hard feelings. And that's why I don't like [our differences] to get out in public. I don't want to be the Joan of Arc of the music industry."
In the same issue of EW, "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell said of the dispute between the singer and the record company, ''Kelly is not a puppet; she does not like to be told what to do. She could have gone the easy route, which is, you go with ['Since U Been Gone' producer] Max Martin — it's a guaranteed success. She made it absolutely clear that she wanted to steer the musical direction on this record. You just gotta say, 'You know what? This girl has given us millions and millions of sales.' You've got to give her that opportunity. If it works out, fantastic. If she then decides she wants to do a pop album, every good writer and producer wants to work with her. Because Kelly will be here for 30 years. She has one of the best pop voices in the world right now. What she sold in the U.K., Europe, Asia had nothing to do with 'American Idol.' It had everything to do with the fact that she made a great record and she's got an incredible voice. She's not a girl who got lucky in a talent competition; we got lucky to find her.''
Just yesterday, we posted the Elle magazine story and interview with Kelly Clarkson in which Kwatinetz said of his client:
"The label didn't even acknowledge her ASCAP awards ... It's upsetting. They don't want her to be a songwriter. They just want her to shut up and sing. They want her to stay their little American Idol."
In fact, according to an article we posted last week by Fox News' Roger Friedman, Kwatinetz and Clarkson were so tight that Friedman said:
"But the real friction may not be between Clarkson and Davis, but between Clarkson's manager, Jeff Kwatinetz, of The Firm, and the label.
It was only this past weekend that RCA learned Kwatinetz is being listed by Clarkson as "executive producer" of the album. This indicates a new role for Kwatinetz, who is not the most popular member of the recording industry. Managers generally do not receive "EP" credits on albums. They are listed as managers."
Now, Entertainment Weekly is saying that Clarkson has fired Kwatinetz:
With just two weeks to go before the release of her much-anticipated (and recently leaked) third album, "My December," EW.com has learned that Kelly Clarkson fired her management team Monday night [June 11]. A SonyBMG source confirms the split between Clarkson and The Firm's Jeff Kwatinetz, and hinted that internal bickering between SonyBMG and Clarkson about the songwriting and direction of "My December" likely played a role with their parting.
"He exacerbated a thermonuclear situation," says one source close to the situation. "Jeff did everything he could to control Kelly and her career suffered. He should have steered her in the right direction."
The Firm issued a statement on June 12 saying, "Kelly Clarkson is an enormously talented artist. We are pleased to have served as her managers during her well-deserved rise to stardom and are proud of the role we played in backing her creative choices. We believed in Kelly from the day we met her and believe in her now. We have only the best wishes and hopes for her in the future."
A spokesperson at RCA, Clarkson's label, had no comment.
With the single
"Never Again" stalling on the charts [it's currently No. 11 on the Hot 100 chart after 6 weeks] and the album predicted to underperform, the timing of the firing says a lot about where Clarkson sees herself positioned in the pop world. She certainly hasn't been shy about sacrificing a bit of pop appeal for a more independent rock route ("I know it's not going to do what 'Breakaway' did, 'cause it's not as mainstream. I get that. Some of the songs are not what 10-year-olds are probably going to listen to," Clarkson told EW earlier this year), but another insider says there were bigger problems than just specific songs. "It's been a poor setup," claims the source. "Tour markets were misread and all the fighting with the label has taken attention away from the one thing that matters: her music."
In fact, another source suggests that the album, if it hasn't made its way to the pressing plant yet, may actually get shelved so that Clarkson and her label, headed by music legend Clive Davis, can reconsider some of the tracks. "It's not too late," says the source. "The label was supportive of Kelly in terms of putting the song out, but this album can't flop. She needs to get the right advice and counsel."
Stay tuned ...
And here's a recent interview between Ryan Seacrest and Clarkson on his KISS-FM radio show.
IS BLAKE LEWIS A DIVA?
In one of those stories we're reluctant to believe, MSNBC claims that Blake Lewis is a major celeb — at least in his own mind, citing a National Enquirer story that claims that Lewis was at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on June 7 when he was approached by four elderly ladies who politely asked him if he was the guy from the hit television series, according to the National Enquirer.
Lewis curtly insisted that he wasn't.
"My, my, young man, you look so much like him," one disappointed woman reportedly said.
Although no one else seemed to recognize Lewis, he whipped out his cell phone, called someone, and complained about being mobbed by fans, according to the tab.
"Hurry up and get down here fast!" an observer heard him grouse. "You wouldn't believe all the people bothering me here!"
Having seen how exceedingly polite Lewis has been in other situations, we find the whole story highly suspect, especially after reading this in The Journal News:
Jessi-Ann Bettcher is on her way home to Brewster from the hospital where she received lifesaving heart transplant surgery three weeks ago.
The 17-year-old soccer player, wearing jeans, sandals and a heart monitor on her chest that looks like a large i-pod, smiled all morning as she said goodbye to nurses and doctors.
"You don't know you are going home until all the wires are out of your body, and you are in the car," said Bettcher, with her mother at her side, shortly after noon, as she was being discharged from Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital at New York-Presbyterian. "I'm going home today, so I'm excited."
The spirited teenager planned to surprise some of her friends at Brewster High School before beginning what is expected to be an eight-week period of healing and recovery at home.
She has every intention of taking up soccer again next season as a senior.
Bettcher's accommodating nature and uncommon grace during her 23 days in the hospital endeared her to many in her community and impressed none other than Blake Lewis -- the runner-up on the television show "American Idol," who visited Bettcher in her room.
After all the excitement of coming home, Bettcher said she was looking forward to having "five minutes to myself."
SPEND A DAY WITH AN IDOL FINALIST
Just because "American Idol" Season 6 has officially ended, the contests surrounding the series haven't. The PRNewswire announces a new Pringles off-air contest where you can win a day with your favorite Season 6 Top 10 Idol finalist through the "Pringles Win a Day with an AMERICAN IDOL Finalist" contest.
To enter, click here and submit an essay of no more than 100 words telling how they would spend a day with one of the top 10 finalists from 2007. Entries must be received by September 14. No purchase is necessary. You can find additional information, contest entry details and the official rules at the same Web site.
PHIL STACEY VIDEO
Phil Stacey performs in Wichita, Kansas, to help the people of Greensburg. This is his new song, "Old Glory," which he did for the first time for the people of Wichita and Greensburg:
And before his performance of the National Anthem at Riverbend, Stacey was interviewed by TV station WDEF, News 12. Here are some excerpts:
On resuming his career in the Navy: "They encouraged me to do my audition, they supported me through the whole thing, they're sending me on the tour. My first priority was to get back, and resume my post as a United States sailor."
On recording an album: "I think, I write and sign honest music, music that I feel in my heart, and, I think, if you pick a Phil Stacy CD up, it'll probably be in the country music section."
On his fans: "Everywhere we go now, people want to stop us, they want to talk to us, and it just means the world, it means there was a connection made between that person and ourselves. It's just been really cool, because, we feel like we have just a huge amount of new friends."
On the most important thing he takes with him from his Idol days: "We did an event called Idol Gives Back. We raised somewhere near 100 million dollars, just in fighting poverty. And, I think what we raised more than anything else was awareness. That poverty is an issue that's killing children all over the world, it's hurting families across the United States, and we have the power if we join together we can beat poverty."
SIMON AND RYAN GO AT IT
Responding to Ryan Seacrest's charge that he was the cause of the drop in ratings for "American Idol," Simon Cowell called in to Seacrest's KIIS-FM radio show in Los Angeles, and the two had a bitchfest. You can listen to it here.
ALAINA ALEXANDER'S GAY PRIDE SINGLE
Queerty reports Season 6 semi-finalist Alaina Alexander may not have won the crooning contest, but she's won a gold star for her special gay pride single,
"Believe." The video, created by The Lavender Liberal, features men, women and trans folk who may not all be gay, but have all died at the hands of homophobia. It’s definitely something to think about. And not recommended for easily depressed people.
Watch video and listen to Alaina Alexander (who sounds A LOT better here than she did on Idol):
TAYLOR HICKS ON NBA FINALS
Taylor Hicks sings the National Anthem at the NBA finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs Thursday June 14 on ABC at 8:30 p.m.
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