Oh, this is rich in palace intrigue. Very rich.
The Fox News story goes like this:
You may recall the story about Mario Vazquez, the kid who bolted mid-season from “American Idol” last winter. He’d been convinced by his lawyer — the same lawyer who represented Clay Aiken — to leave the show rather than stay and sign a management contract with the “Idol” producers.
Perhaps we will soon be seeing Mr. Maroulis taking a number, behind Mario “Who?” Vazquez, at the law offices of Atlanta entertainment lawyer Jess L. Rosen, the freedom fighter who famously extricated Clay Aiken from the AI management machine.
Yes, Mr. Jess L. Rosen, Freedom Fighter.
It is now reported (by Fox News here) that Mr. Rosen, Freedom Fighter, was the man behind the curtain in the melodrama of “The Kid Who Bolted.”
Now, previously, as those who have been along for the idolhabit ride since the beginning know, I have already expressed, in my usual unequivocal terms, my sense of The Kid’s future in the music industry.
To wit, I said, with my usual candor:
“I don’t believe Mario is distinctive enough to break through without the type of exposure, personal and musical, he could have gotten on AI.”
Of course, I could be wrong.
(But after listening to Mario’s vocals on Worlds of Change, what I called a “Latin-flavored boy-bandesque lollipop,” I somehow doubt it.)
Mario’s future career prospects, however, are not what I’m here to discuss.
Think about the intrigue, people, the intrigue! This puts the two-bit toga-toting hacks in I, Claudius all to shame!
While the Fox News story lays the blame/credit (depending on how much you love Mario) for this bodacious plan fully on Mr. Jess Rosen, Freedom Fighter, one has to wonder if said Rosen was not part of a nefarious palace—i.e., insider—cabal.
Look at it this way:
Would a big, fancy lawyer such as Mr. Rosen, Freedom Fighter, advise The Kid to actually LEAVE THE SHOW (that show being American Idol) without said big, fancy lawyer actually having some assurances that he could indeed deliver a big-time record contract to said Kid on a silver platter.
What this deal accomplished was the complete and utter cutting out of Mr. Fuller and 19 Entertainment.
And, if the rumors are true that Fuller is shopping for an alternate label for American Idol winners, this deal also accomplished a pre-emptive strike.
This was shock and awe designed to rain fear onto the hearts of all those connected with 19 Entertainment.
The message: Your juicy deals-in-the-making are not safe. We can come at any time and raid your farm teams and raid your bench.
Unless one believes that Mr. Rosen worked completely on his own (and Freedom Fighters never do), J. Records, in some way, shape or form, likely helped the cause of snatching Mario Vazquez from the claws of Simon Fuller and 19 Entertainment. (This assumes Mario Vazquez would have won or been runner-up, which I don’t think at all is a sure bet.)
If Simon Fuller indeed is looking to take the American Idol golden goose away from J. Records (a/k/a Clive Davis—the “J” in J. Records is for Clive’s middle initial), Clive Davis just gave him the air kiss and said “Go ahead and make my day.”
In other words: Mr. Fuller, sir, you be punk’d..
The take-home point?
If it happened once, it can happen again. If a label succeeded in interjecting itself into the Idol process—in effect, in pre-empting the label that has the legal right to sign artists who complete the Idol process—a label, any label, can do that again in the future.
American Idol becomes the NFL Draft.
Yep, you heard it on idolhabit first.
After American Idol goes through the laborious process of finding a couple dozen singing diamonds in the rough, it puts them on the tube where they are then evaluated by scouts for all the major record labels.
If a label thinks it really needs a particular kid at quarterback, so to speak, just like in college sports, there are ways to convey “interest.”
Heck, I remember Heather Locklear telling the story that she had a friend ring up Richie Sambora and tell him that she was “interested.” According to Heather, Richie showed up at her hotel room door that night in order to inquire about her interest. The rest is married bliss history.
But I digress.
In this brave new world of American Idol Meets the NFL Draft, once a label decides it wants to go after an American Idol finalist, it can work a covert deal and just let the contestant ride the AI wave until the label thinks the time is right to pull the plug.
What about this example:
What if, instead of taking the chance that he might win American Idol—an eventuality he was literally praying against—Bo Bice had withdrawn from the competition the night before the finale because he had gone ahead and worked out a deal with Clive Davis that cut out Simon Fuller and 19E?
(That’s not likely to be possible, so far as we know the details of the AI contract, but when it comes to litigation/legal interpretations, I, for one, would never say never.)
Of course, I can gar-ran-tee that the Superhero contingent, disguised as squirrelly little lawyers, is running around the back streets of L.A., trying to dream up ways to—drats! double drats!—foil the plans of the Clive Davis Clone Army to take over the American Idol world.
Beyond that, however, there’s a more commercial way for Mr. Fuller and 19E to defeat the Clive Davis Clone Army.
Such as, oh, doing an exceptionally fantastic job promoting the American Idol artists 19E does sign. You know, doing your job so well that everyone actually wants to hold out for the chance to be on your team.
It’s supremely interesting that Mr. Rosen’s Freedom Fighting credentials include springing the one and only Mr. Clay Aiken from 19E.
Out here in the bleachers, we’ll never know the full story on what motivated Mr. Aiken to take extraordinary steps to extricate himself from Fuller’s management services.
But I do know this: the Superhero contingent disguised as lawyers can never write a contract that another Superhero disguised as a lawyer cannot find a way out of.
So there are only so many “party of the first part” and “party of the second part” and “is this the party to whom I am speaking?” clauses that Fuller and 19E can deploy in an effort to stop American Idol finalists from pulling a Mario.
On the other hand, no one, save themselves, can stop Fuller and 19E from becoming known as a company that, through hard work, skill and good judgment, takes every American Idol finalist it signs straight up to the stars.
Establish a winning record, and the players will come.
However, in the new American Idol Fantasy League, allowing major talents such as Clay Aiken—and, oh yeah, Kelly Clarkson, who said buh-bye this year—to slip away doesn’t bode well for Fuller and 19’s team.
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