It might seem like ages ago but once upon a time American Idol winners and contestants regularly hit the Top 10 with their songs and become big stars and major moneymakers. Those days of almost assured hits out of Idol may be waning but there is still money on the table from those who hit the tune jackpot. Which is why the music company affiliated with Idol producers 19 Entertainment today took Sony Music to court for royalties that it alleges Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughty, Clay Aiken and other Idol alumni are owed – especially in the digital realm. In the breach of contract compliant (read it here) filed today in federal court in NYC, 19 Recordings are seeking compensatory damages of more than $7 million, pre and post-judgment interest of “at least $3 million” plus legal and organizational costs and whatever else the jury will give them. ”It was very important to my clients to protect their artists, and we look forward to pursuing this,” attorney Richard Busch told me today after the suit was filed. The Nashville-based lawyer at King & Barlow is representing 19 Recordings in the matter.
“Sony has failed to comply with the terms of the Recording Agreements, and failed to fulfill its obligations under the Recording Agreements, by failing to properly account to and pay 19 royalties for licensing, sales, and other exploitations of the … Read More »
A cappella singing is hot at the moment following the success of feature Pitch Perfect, about competing college a cappella groups. So American Idol producer 19 Entertainment and its parent company CORE Media Group have signed an exclusive deal with Varsity Vocals, the collegiate a cappella organization that organizes the International Championship of A Cappella, to develop a show built around the competition and the college students who participate in it. I hear Varsity Vocals president Amanda Newman announced the partnership at the ICCA International finals tonight in NYC. Also looking to take advantage of Pitch Perfect‘s success is Universal sibling NBC, which recently announced the revival of its a cappella competition series The Sing Off. Read More »
Alec Gores, who was part of a group that made an unsuccessful bid for Miramax, has his eye on another media biggie: CKX Inc, which owns most of American Idol. Bloomberg is reporting today that the unsolicited offer came March 23 but had no other details. CKX had been on the block to sell but withdrew those plans five months ago. The company, which owns two-thirds of Idol with FremantleMedia, reported a $15.7M loss and a 17% drop in revenue earlier this month, mostly owing to the winding-up costs of shrinking Idol creator Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment.
Fox may be pinching itself that American Idol is doing so well in the ratings, but its owner CKX is feeling the pain. Los Angeles-based CKX has reported a $15.7 million loss last year, compared to a $22.8 million profit the year before. Most of this came from the one-off winding-up costs of shrinking American Idol creator Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment; Fuller still oversees American Idol but as a consultant. CKX has closed 19’s offices in London and New York, making 23 people redundant, with an annual savings of about $20 million a year from now on. Revenue also fell in 2010, by 17% to $273.7 million. CEO Michael Ferrel told investors in a conference call, “We wanted to get all the bad news in this press release out of the way.”
Last week’s American Idol enjoyed the biggest Thursday night audience of any TV network show in the past four years, Ferrel told investors. This year’s season ends in May, which is when negotiations with Fox will begin over the series’ 11th cycle. This year’s American Idol tour is booked for 40 dates so far but may well extend to 45-50 given the renewed interest in the show.
CKX had a rollercoaster year in 2010 with Fuller leaving to set up his new company XIX in January. Four months later he tried to buy CKX himself, but was up against Robert Sillerman, CKX’s ex-CEO, who resigned in May to … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment are locking in their American Idol judges with each passing day. But I’ve learned that the show really wanted but didn’t snag the best judge possible — David Geffen. My sources say that, about 4 months ago, Idol producer Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment first approached the one time founder of both Asylum Records (Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt) and Geffen Records (Donna Summer, John Lennon, Elton John, Cher, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel, Guns N’ Roses, Lifehouse, Nirvana) and former principal of DreamWorks SKG. The two men met twice, and Fuller tried his best to talk Geffen into taking the judging gig left vacant by Simon Cowell. I hear the multibillionaire who rarely gives interviews or appears on television asked Fuller perplexed: “Why should I do this?”
As soon as Cowell announced his departure from Idol to bring his own music show The X Factor to Fox, the network and 19 and Fremantle sought a new judge who was a music mogul, like Tommy Mottola, Guy Oseary, and Jimmy Iovine. But Geffen would have trumped them all. “It would have been his if he’d wanted it,” a source tells me. “Because Cowell is a bad imitation of David.” I couldn’t agree more: Geffen would have been a natural: he’s often brutally honest, he is a legendary talent spotter, and he’s forgotten more about the music biz than Cowell will ever know in a lifetime. … Read More »
He was the first major member of the American idol team to depart the show. Now former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is finalizing a deal to return for the upcoming 10th season as the top-rated reality series is looking to shake off a lackluster Season 9 and to prepare for its first season without Simon Cowell on the judging panel. Lythgoe is expected to serve as an executive producer alongside Ken Warwick, who has been running Idol for the past 2 years, creator Simon Fuller and Cecile Frot-Coutaz. Lythgoe’s surprise exit from the show in the summer of 2008 was followed by the departure of Paula Abdul last summer over a salary dispute and the recent exit of Cowell, who will be launching X Factor on Fox in fall 2011.
Lythgoe, who helped build Idol into a reality powerhouse, has stayed in the Idol family with a deal at 19 Entertainment, which co-produces Idol with FremantleMedia. He also serves as executive producer/judge on 19′s Fox series So You Think You Can Dance. Because of his long-time Idol experience and his Cowell-like role on SYTYCD as an acerbic British judge, there has been some speculation that CAA-repped Lythgoe would be considered for Cowell’s spot but I hear his deal is for his EP services only. As for the high-profile search for Cowell’s replacement, it is still going on, and the network may not be able to lock in the new judge by … Read More »