Michael Johns released from 19 Entertainment’s American Idol contract, doesn’t want a label

American Idol 7 finalist Michael Johns has been released from the show’s restrictive contract that prevents finalists from being signed by other record labels or from releasing records until six months after the show concludes, thereby keeping their music out of the way of the show’s winner (and runner-up).

Johns “asked to be released from the 19 Entertainment contract” and “19 agreed, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Johns has already “been on two major labels and an indie” and now “plans to go on his own like Elliott Yamin and hopes to find distribution any way he can,” and “says he’s recorded eight songs (two songs by Diane Warren), most done before the tour started. He hopes to get 25 done by Thanksgiving and pick 12 for an album set to be released in January or February,” according to the paper.

“They said, ‘Look–we realize you’re 29 years old. Good luck.’ I was so thankful. I’ve been able to work and get things done instead of wait around,” Michael told the paper. He said he’s not going to a major label because “I want control back. It’s not like I need a label to get me noticed. This is one of my last shots to be in this situation.” As to a producer, he said, “I can’t believe producers are returning my calls! Ultimately, we’ll write as much as we can then figure out what producer to stylize it. … It’s an album hopefully you can dance to, work out to, chill out to.”

Michael says his friendship with winner David Cook–which has recently manifested itself in impromptu dances they do during the tour, although organizers asked them to stop until fan protests caused organizers to reverse their decision–means that they’ll collaborate in the future. “I can’t see how we wouldn’t work together. We’re such great friends. Even though we’re a bit different stylistically, I used to do that kind of sound back in Atlanta. We really have a good connection. We keep each other sane. Working together — it’s something we talk about all the time,” he said.

Michael Johns interview is now up [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.