Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former American Idol winner Phillip Phillips is suing the show’s producer, 19 Entertainment, and its affiliated companies to get out of his contract.
The singer claims in paperwork that he’s been “manipulated” by the company over the past few years.
“I am very grateful for the opportunities provided to me through appearing on American Idol,” Phillips told ABC News in a statement. “The value that the fans and the show have given to my career is not lost on me. However, I have not felt that I have been free to conduct my career in a way that I am comfortable with. I look forward to being able to make my own choices about my career and to being able to make great music and play it for my fans.”
Phillips, 24, filed a petition with the California Labor Commissioner, claiming that he was obligated to play gigs that did not benefit his career, such as one show he did for free for JetBlue, and that the production company regularly withheld information about his career from him. For example, he claimed he only found out the name of his album when the public did. Phillips also alleged that 19 Entertainment receives as much as 40 percent of any of his endorsement deals.
At the core of the petition is the Talent Agencies Act, a California law that states that only licensed talent agents can negotiate gigs for their clients. Phillips’ legal team aims to show that the producers were violating the TAA.
Phillips’ lawyer, Howard King at King Holmes Paterno & Berliner, called the deal “oppressive” and “fatally conflicted.” In a statement, he said: “Phillip appreciates the opportunity provided to him by American Idol and always expected the producers to share in the rewards of his subsequent success. However, he never anticipated that the producers would favor their own interests above his career or commit egregious violations of the California’s Talent Agencies Act. Thankfully, California has a long history of protecting artists from being victimized by people illegally operating as de facto talent agencies.”
However, 19 Entertainment stands by the deal.
“We’re very proud of everything we’ve accomplished together with Phillip, working closely to help nurture his extraordinary talent and advance his career. We have always acted in the best interest of Phillip,” a spokesperson for the company told The Hollywood Reporter. “We will vigorously defend ourselves from any baseless claims to the contrary and from any attempt to interfere with our rights and relationships.”
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