What does this week’s American Idol winner have to look forward to? Far less than in the past. The pop music market, now saturated with close to 100 of the show’s alums, is showing signs of Idol fatigue. Earnings for some of Idol’s top vocalists have nosedived over the past year. The show that reshaped television and the music business just isn’t minting cash for its stars like it once did.
Kris Allen, the 2009 Idol winner, has sold just 300,000 albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In the past year his music and touring sales have delivered an estimated $748,000—nothing much to sing about. He places 10th on our annual list of the top-earning stars launched by American Idol.
Jennifer Hudson’s light touring schedule and the end of her lucrative role as Avon spokeswoman hit the Oscar winner in the pocketbook, too. Forbes estimates that she earned $3.5 million in the year from June 1, 2009, to the end of this month, compared with $5 million the previous year. That dropped her to sixth place from second on last year’s list. Carrie Underwood, No. 1 on our list, earned an estimated $13 million over the past year—$1 million less than the year before. One Idol star, Taylor Hicks, didn’t earn enough to remain on our list.
Plenty of the show’s alums, including Hudson, have made money on Broadway. Among them: Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, Ace Young and Constantine Maroulis. But Broadway shows are paying less, too. The salary of a starring theatrical role is now as little as 10% of what a newly crowned Idol winner grosses on a debut tour, typically about $300,000.
However, not all Idol stars are taking it on the chin. Kelly Clarkson and Kellie Pickler are in the midst of high-grossing, nationwide tours. Clarkson, No. 2 on this year’s list—and the very first Idol winner—made an estimated $11.7 million over the last year, more than double the year before thanks to a heavy touring schedule. Clarkson was one of the most frequently played artists on radio in 2009, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Pickler, No. 4 on our list, has played 100 concerts in the past year, bringing in $7.6 million.
But this season’s stars probably won’t do as well. If there’s one thing lacking among Idol contestants this year, it’s an “It” factor. Neither of the final two vocalists—24-year-old musician Crystal Bowersox of Toledo, Ohio, and 24-year-old paint sales clerk Lee DeWyze of Mount Prospect, Ill.—have the personality draw of, say, an Adam Lambert. And so far there has been little personal drama in their rivalry, unlike David Cook and David Archuleta (season seven), who battled each other like musical gladiators.
Adding to this lackluster season may be an Idol backlash, of sorts. Blogs that cover the show suggest its aggressive product promotions are turning off fans (a recent episode plugged Ford and the latest Shrek movie in back-to-back video segments). There is less behind-the-scenes action to chatter about. Gone are the wacky, off-camera antics of former judge Paula Abdul, who left the show last year. Idol’s creator and its central personality, Simon Cowell, is also leaving after the show’s finale Wednesday night.
Idol now averages 24 million viewers a broadcast, down from its high of 31 million in 2006. A Frank Sinatra-themed episode in early May that featured a special appearance by Lady Gaga drew one of the show’s lowest ratings ever, dipping to 17.5 million viewers. Worse, Idol was recently overtaken in the ratings for the first time by ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.
All that said, Idol is still among the most lucrative shows on television. During the upcoming finale, Fox is believed to be charging $1 million for a 30-second spot. The network reportedly pays Cowell $30 million annually for his judging, far more than any Idol contestant has ever made in a year.
Celebrity performers who appear on Idol do so to tap what is still a powerful promotion machine. In May, after Lady Gaga performed a new song, “Alejandro” (wearing a black thong and fishnet bodysuit), sales for the single jumped, says Nielsen SoundScan Vice President Chris Muratore. “The airplay Gaga got of that single was astounding. Digital sales of “Alejandro” went up 70% after her Idol appearance, from 78,000 to 133,000 per week,” he says.
Bowersox and DeWyze will no doubt be signed to record deals, but no one is betting either will be the next Carrie Underwood. That leaves viewers to ponder the show’s only true dramatic storyline this year: Can Idol survive the departure of Simon Cowell, its most recognizable presence?
One viewer believes so. “I think Simon is a kind of love-to-loathe character who revels in his ambiguous popularity,” says Ellis Cashmore, author of Celebrity/Culture and a professor at England’s Staffordshire University. “But American Idol is too robust to suffer from the loss of one individual.”
Seven Notable Moments In Late Baba Suwe’s Life
Renowned Nigerian comic actor, Babatunde Omidina, popularly known as Baba Suwe, passed away on Monday, November 22 at the age of 63.
Baba Suwe’s demise was announced by his son, Adesola Omidina, on social media.
Here are seven key things to remember about the popular late Nollywood comic actor.
Baba Suwe was born on August 22, 1958.
State of origin
Baba Suwe was a native of Ikorodu, Lagos State.
He was born and grew up in Lagos Island.
Baba Suwe had his primary and secondary education in Lagos and Osun States, in the South-Western part of the country.
Baba Suwe was renowned for the comic role he played and featured in scores of movies – including those produced by him – such as Iru Esin, Ebi Olokada, Baba Londoner, Obelomo, Elebolo, Larinloodu, and Baba Jaiye Jaiye, among many others.
Baba Suwe’s health worsened as Tampan denied abandoning him
Omidina began acting in 1971.
He, however, came into limelight after he featured in a Yoruba movie titled ‘Omolasan’, which was produced by Obalende.
Demise of his wife
The comic actor was, married to comedienne Omoladun Omidina, who died in September 2009. It was one of the most devastating moments in the life of Baba Suwe.
Drug Trafficking accusation
In 2011, Baba Suwe was accused of cocaine trafficking by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) .
The allegation was later described as false and defamatory by a court in Lagos which ordered that Baba Suwe should be paid N25 million as compensation.
He, however, lamented that he did not receive any payment years after the ruling.
The veteran actor died on Monday, November 22, 2021, after he was said to have battled an illness for a long period. He was 63 years old.
ENIFF Showcases 50 Films From 15 Countries
The Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival, ENIFF, last Wednesday, in Enugu commenced the showcase of 50 films from 15 global countries.
The four-day event features among other films, a Moroccan movie, “Ultimate King”, Nigerian best narrative movie, “Yahoo Plus” and other award-winning movies.
Co-founder of ENIFF, Obianujuaku Akukwe-Nwakalor, who spoke with newsmen in Enugu at the commencement of the premiere, on Wednesday, disclosed that the film festival features the participation of major Nollywood actors such as Pet Edochie.
Akukwe-Nwakalor however regretted that Nollywood, which had its roots in the southeast has been taken away from the zone due to equipment deficit and support for the dwindling fortunes of actors and artistes, who are based in the east.
She also said that the development had forced most of the southeast-based actors and artistes to relocate to Lagos where there are better opportunities for the industry.
She said, “They (actors and artistes) are struggling because they don’t have the right equipment; they don’t have the right support; they don’t have money.
“To produce a film that can compete, that can at least be on NETFLIX, you need millions of Naira and the people here(East) don’t understand what it means to invest. If I tell you to invest N100 million into my film, you don’t understand and because you don’t understand how you are going to make N300 million from it, you are not going to invest”.
Akukwe-Nwakalor, with the co-founder, Mr Chris Odili, is hosting a film festival called Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival (ENIFF) in Enugu through the Eastern Nigeria Film and Arts Initiative, said the idea was to bridge and set up a creative hub in the southeast.
“We’re basically bridging the entertainment space or grid and set up a creative hub in the southeast part of Nigeria.
“Yes, we have pockets of things going on here. But, you will agree with me that we’re taking a back seat. We’re the backbenchers right now when it comes to entertainment space. Everything happens in Lagos.
“I came from Abuja and things as basic as finding a projector were very difficult. This is because people don’t use nor demand such here.
“We have forgotten that the Nollywood industry actually started from here in the southeast. But we have lost the steam”, Akukwe-Nwakalor said.
The idea of the festival, she explained, was to come back home, set up a space where the young ones, particularly those in the schools, could be trained to learn about film education, bringing in facilitators from different parts of Africa and the world so that they can learn from best hands what the creative space is about.
“We are starting from education. We are teaching them first to understand how this works. Until you understand, that will shift your mindset and when your mindset is shifted you can now begin to think of how to make money.
Ramsey Nouah Accuses Directors Of ‘Mediocre Nollywood Production’
Nigerian veteran Nollywood actor, Ramsey Nouah, has blamed directors in Nollywood of mediocre Nollywood production.
According to him, Nollywood needs a lot of improvements before it can be considered satisfactory for viewers.
Our source reports that Ramsey Nouah said, “I still find a lot of disconnect between the technicality and creativity in my industry right now. I see that the creative, which is the art part of filmmaking, is still not as deep as I want it to be.
“Performances from the actors are not deeply rooted. We have good quality techniques going on, but it’s almost like oil and water not mixing properly.
“If you can’t get an Oscar-winning performance from an actor the fault is not the actor, but the director’s. If you can’t deliver as an actor, the problem is the director that cast you”.
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