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Kelly Wins Idol – Now What?

As everyone who gives a fig knows by now, Kelly Clarkson won the American Idol competition last night. She is now in the hands of the 19 Group of Companies (scroll to bottom):

    A Brief Introduction

    Simon Fuller has had a profound influence on current British pop culture. At 21, he scored his first hit by signing the then-unknown song “Holiday” – Madonna’s first hit to Chrysalis Music in the UK. His career as a manager started in 1985 when he set up “19” – the name derived from the company’s first single release – Paul Hardcastle’s four million selling smash entitled “19.”

    He has gone on to become one of the most respected and influential forces within the global entertainment industry.

    He managed the development of Annie Lennox’s solo career; he created and managed the Spice Girls, who went on to sell 38million albums and became a global phenomenon. This has been followed by the global television and music success story that is S Club 7.

    The company has built up an unprecedented roster of top music producers, songwriters and artists playing a fundamental role in the success of artists including Madonna, U2, Oasis, Craig David, Eurythmics, Kylie Minogue, and Boyzone.

    Today “19” is recognised as a leading creator, provider and promoter of globally successful, music based entertainment.

    “19” has attracted a unique collection of expertise in people who work together to integrate and leverage activity across television, music, film, merchandising, music publishing, recording, artist/writer and producer management, sponsorship and promotion.

    To date, “19” has been involved in the creation of over 50 Number 1 singles and 25 Number 1 albums with an impressive tally of over 70 Top 40 albums and 200 Top 40 singles.

Gary Fine, of entertainment law firm Kleinberg Lopez Lange Cuddy & Edel LLP in Los Angeles, dug up these provisions from the contestant contract, with the following explanation:

    I looked over a copy of the “American Idol: The Search For A Superstar Contestant Agreement and Release” and found it to be……….well……….how shall I say this…………………………..particularly aggressive, perhaps. I have included below some provisions from the greement that some of you might find interesting. The agreement wasa 14 pages long and, naturally, contained additional language that would affect the interpretation of the provisions below, but I think it’s safe to say that such additional language did not make the provisions any more artist friendly.
    5. Future Agreements: Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Section C, I understand and agree that in the event I am one of the final ten (10) contestants in the Competition, I will be required to enter into the following agreements: (a) an agreement with 19 Recordings Ltd. (or an affiliated company) for my exclusive services as a recording artist: (b) an agreement with 19 Merchandising Ltd. for the use of my name, likeness biography in connection with advertising, endorsement, merchandising and sponsorship; and (c) an agreement with 19 Management Ltd. for the management of my career as an artist. I understand and agree that, unless I am the individual selected as the winner of the Competition, such agreements shall become fully effective only at the election of 19 Recordings Ltd., 19 Merchandising Ltd., and/or 19 Management Ltd. I hereby warrant that as of the date of this agreement I have not entered into any contract or arrangement which might prevent me from entering into the agreements specified in sub-sections (a), (b) and (c) of this Section C.5., and that in the event I am prevented from entering into any of the foregoing agreements, I shall be immediately disqualified from the Competition and the Series.

    1. Name. Likeness, etc., Promotional Activities. I hereby consent to Producer’s filming, taping and/or recording of me for use in and in connection with the Series (including, without limitation, whether I am aware or unaware of the photographing, videotaping, filming or recording of same, and by requiring me to wear a microphone at all reasonable times, at Producer’s discretion) and agree to cooperate fully with Producer in such activities. I acknowledge and agree that Producer will be the sole and exclusive owner of all rights and material filmed, taped, and/or recorded pursuant to this Agreement. In addition. I hereby grant to Producer the unconditional right throughout the universe in perpetuity to use, simulate or portray (and to authorize others to do so) or to refrain from using, simulating or portraying, 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, including without limitation the right to use, or to authorize others to use any of the foregoing in or in connection with the Series (or any episode or portion thereof) and the advertising, promoting or publicizing of the Series or any Series episode by Producer, the Network, its operations, activities or programming services and with any merchandise, tie-in, sponsor, product, or service of any kind by Producer, the Network, or any of its programming services, and in any other manner whatsoever as Producer may elect in its sole discretion. I understand that, in and in connection with the Series, I may reveal and/or relate, and other parties (including, without limitation, other contestants, the judges, Producer and the host and/or co-host of the Series) may reveal and/or relate information about me of a personal, private, intimate. surprising, defamatory, disparaging, embarrassing or unfavorable nature, that may be factual and/or fictional. I further understand that my appearance, depiction and/or portrayal in the Series and my actions and the actions of others displayed in the Series, may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature and may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation. I acknowledge and agree that Producer shall have the right to (a) include any such information and any such appearance, depiction, portrayal, actions, and statements in the Series as edited by Producer in its sole discretion, (b) broadcast and otherwise exploit the Series containing any such information and any such appearance, depiction, portrayal or actions, and (c) use such information, appearance, depiction, portrayal, actions and/or statements in any manner whatsoever, in Producer’s sole discretion. The waivers, release and indemnities in this Agreement expressly apply to any such inclusion and exploitation.

    6. “World Idol”: I acknowledge and agree that, should I win the Competition and subject to my availability at the time of the Producer’s request, l shall participate in a “World Idol” program where winners/contestants from the “Pop Idol” and/or “American Idol” competition in other countries or other versions of the Series shall compete against each other and, provided that I appear on the “World Idol” program, I agree to accept a total fee of One Thousand Four Hundred Dollars ($1,400.00) in full and final consideration for my appearance in such program and the grant of all rights in relation thereto on the same terms and conditions set out hereunder. The format of such program shall be at the discretion of the Producer. I further acknowledge and agree that, regardless of whether I win the Competition, but subject to my availability as set forth above, I will participate in any and all of Producer’s spin-off program(s), including without limitation any recording, interview, audition, competition, event or activity relating to such spin-off program, provided that Producer shall notify me of such program or activity either within twelve (12) months of the date of first broadcast of the last episode of the Series or thirteen (13) months from the date of acceptance by Network of the last episode of the Series (whichever is earlier).

    2. Confidentiality/Disclosures: Any and all information disclosed to or obtained by me concerning or relating to the Series, the contestants, the events contained in the Series, the outcome of the Series and/or contest, Producer, the Network and the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall be strictly confidential. I agree that I shall NOT disclose to any third party any information to which I have had or will have access concerning the Series, the judges, host and co-host, the other contestants, their friends or families, Producer, the Network, or the Network’s programming or other services, or the terms and conditions of this Agreement except as required to fulfill my obligations hereunder; as expressly authorized by Producer in writing; or as required by law. I also agree that I shall not disclose any such information to any contestant, individual or entity including, without limitation, any members of the press. I acknowledge that any disclosure of such information will constitute a material breach of this Agreement and will cause Producer and the Network substantial and irreparable Injury and will cause substantial damages in excess of Five Million Dollars ($5,000,000), entitling Producer (and/or the Network, as a third party beneficiary of this provision) to, among other things: (a) injunctive or other equitable relief, without posting any bond, to prevent and/or cure any breach or threatened breach of this paragraph by me; (b) recovery or disgorgement of the monies and other consideration, if any, I received in connection with such disclosure; (c) forfeiture of any and all cash and prizes that I may have been entitled to for participating in the Series; and (d) recovery of the Producer’s and/or the Network’s damages, including but not limited to, lost profits and other consequential damages, to the extent permitted by law, and attorneys’ fees and court costs incurred to enforce this paragraph. I also agree not to make any personal appearance for anyone other than Producer and/or Network or make any statement to any radio personnel, journalist, media person or service with respect to the Series without Producer’s and Network’s prior written approval as set forth in this Agreement. Notwithstanding the foregoing, I may refer to my appearance in the Series, Producer, or Network in an incidental, non-derogatory manner or as reasonably required in connection with my resume.

Music attorney Kenneth D. Freundlich is concerned for her well-being:

    Holy Cow! I hope Marc Cuban is watching now that he has stated his intention to do Star Search. If so, he should market his show about the difference between Idol and Star Search and set his up as a platform to stardom not as a noose to stardom as Idol appears to be. A few appearances gratis, OK, a compilation album, an Idol single, OK. But a long term contract with THEIR LABEL and THEIR MANAGEMENT TEAM, and THEIR MERCHANDISING COMPANY, is a bit much, not to mention the $1,400 fee for “World Idol”!

    How can the Judges look Kelly in the eye and be proud of what the show has
    done for her? Those provisions are ridiculous. That girl (and who knows how many others of the last 10) is **cked. Who is 19 Recordings, Ltd.? I notice that 19 TV Ltd. and Fox are on the bottom of the website so I can only assume they are all connected.

    Does Kelly have the opportunity to negotiate these “agreements” or must she take whatever they offer? What about disclosure of the conflicts of interest inherent in a manager owning the label and the merchandising company? Shouldn’t they be disclosed (or don’t they have to be!!). What if she wants independent management? How can this be enforceable?

    Did Kelly have an attorney look this over before she signed it? How old is she? Could she consent to all of this?

    Of course, if she did the right thing and hired counsel to blow her out of that nonsense, they would reverse the publicity on her, call her an ingrate, and might harm her career. Does anybody think she could stand up on her own two feet with the publicity the show has generated for her and her talent? Isn’t their a fairer way for the show to be compensated or better yet, didn’t they make enough in the advertising and other income from the success of the show?

    Where are The Rosenberg’s when you need them for comment? This is Farm Club II isn’t it only on a larger scale…Millions of people watched these unsuspecting talents march obediently down the primrose path only to end up surrounded by what appears to be the worst rendition of THE INDUSTRY. I hope I am wrong (and encourage all who know 19 to tell me why I am). If not, this is a gross abuse and I hope someone outs it quickly and publicly.

You have – thank you.

And speaking of Star Search, check this out:

    Though the general format of Star Search stayed the same during its lengthy syndicated run, the show was reshaped and remodeled in small ways. Over time, the acting category was phased out to expand the musical and dance categories. The model/spokesperson category, which was initially a woman-only category, was expanded to include male contestants. Original MTV VJ Martha Quinn was also added in 1994 to emcee the musical competitions.

    TV talent shows have taken some flack over the years for failing to produce lasting stars, but Star Search was a clear exception to this rule. The many talented alumni who got their start on that syndicated stage include Dennis Miller, Sinbad, and Britney Spears.

UPDATE
Here’s a different perspective from John Schuch:

    Is anyone seriously suggesting that Kelly Clarkson would have done better for herself by refusing to sign the contestant agreement and bolting the show prior to becoming one of the highly visible ten finalists to head back home to Burleson, Texas, and wait for her leverage to improve while working as a cocktail waitress?

    I mean, I think she’s talented and deserved to win the competition, but the odds against any one person, no matter how deserving, getting this kind of exposure are astronomical. And no matter how talented she may be, I also think it highly unlikely that she would have been “discovered” were it not for the opportunity to appear on this show.

    Like it or not, media creates celebrities these days, and if being a celebrity was her dream, why would anyone seriously advise her against going down this path? If she’s smart, and getting good advice, she’ll make the best of the situation she now finds herself in, and she’ll have a plan for the future. “Hmmm, Burleson, Texas, for possibly the rest of my life, or a chance at a shot for everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Which one should I choose?”

All well and good and doubtless true, but it still doesn’t explain why the company felt the need to make the contract so artist-unfriendly. It doesn’t matter who won specifically – it would have been a bad contract for whomever. The fact that this particular person has been plucked from obscurity is a given – why take advantage of that person so egregiously?

UPDATES
We have a very large number of Idol-related stories from both seasons – just put American Idol in the search box at the top of the page. Sometimes you just can’t get enough.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014.Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted.Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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