Saturday, January 12, 2008

Clay Aiken gets a little pissy

Clay Aiken gave an on-line interview to Ramin Setoodeh from Newsweek on Friday, January 11th. Here was an opportunity for a respected news magazine to do a good interview with one of the most fascinating and controversial celebrities around. Why fascinating? Because he's not a one dimensional, a one-size-fits-all, so to speak, celebrity. Why controversial? Because everything he does gets noticed and commented on. Fall asleep on a plane and get in a bro-ha-ha with an attacking passenger? Covered in over 500 newspapers, news sites, tabloid rags, and TV shows, including CNN Headline News.

So anyway, this Newsweek reporter had a chance to interview Clay and the beginning of the interview was pretty informative. We learned that Clay is very sore from his Spamalot rehearsals and why Clay decided on Broadway and Monty Python. From there, it went downhill, well, not Clay, but the questions this Newsweek 'reporter' asked.

I don't know if the 'reporter' was trying to be funny or maybe trying to get a scoop or what but Lord help me, if this is the kind of interview a Newsweek 'reporter' asks, Newsweek, I'm available for a freaking job because even a neophyte could have done better than this bozo. I'm surprised Setoodeh didn't ask Aiken if he saw the card!

The first inkling I had of a fluff interview was the question, 'Did you know your socks don't match?' O-kay, Mr. Reporter. Maybe your questions will get better, at least, more intelligent. Then he asked Aiken about why he decided to do Broadway and some Spamalot-related questions. Good job, so far, only one little fart.

Maybe I shouldn't have been so optimistic because Setoodeh then asked about the 'Claymates' *yawn* and if women throw their panties on the stage when Aiken sings *BIG yawn* Really Mr. so-called Reporter, look at some interviews from the past five years to get your answers about these tired, old questions. In fact, why don't you use your Stanford and Oxford educated brain to try to think of something, oh, I don't know, maybe original? There's an idea! Try to ask original questions or at least, questions that haven't been asked multiple times.

Wait, it gets worse.

The reporter then asked about the airplane incident, yes, that same incident that got over 500 mentions in the media. Then he asked about the Kelly Ripa 'thing, if Aiken thought it was a homophobic remark. Each time, Aiken's answer was "I'm not going to discuss it" yet the reporter went on and on. What part of 'I'm not going to discuss it' don't you understand, Mr. Reporter? What part of 'intelligent interview' don't you understand? I'll quote a bit of the article here:

How did you get into a fight with that lady on a plane?
I'm not going to talk about it.

I was just curious because you've never talked about it.
I did talk about it.

What about the Kelly Ripa thing?
I'm not going to discuss it.

Did you think it was homophobic?
I'm not going to discuss it.

What do you want to talk about?
I think we're done.

Can we talk about something fun?
No, we're done. I thought NEWSWEEK would be more reputable. I'm surprised

But I think people are curious about it.
It was a year ago. This is NEWSWEEK. It's not the National Enquirer. I'd hate to have a job where I had to be rude to people.

We're just having a conversation.
Change the subject! I'd never take a job where I had to do something that I didn't want to do.

I'll change the subject. What do you do for fun?
I watch the news. I read news magazines, but I'm reconsidering that now.

Perhaps I should cut this reporter a bit of slack, after all, he's only 25, he's a baby and he's probably spent the past 10 years or so reading newspapers and magazines and looking at TV news broadcasts' that use gossip sites as 'sources'. Yes, even Newsweek used and referenced Perez Hilton as a 'source' for articles a time or two. This subject was written about at The ConCLAYve a few months ago. Check it out.

I'll shut up now. I just wish that respected news magazines would write with a little more respect for their readers. We're not stupid and we'd like the style and method of writing to reflect the intelligence of the readers. I just wish that reporters would do their job with integrity and to the best of their ability instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Clay Aiken: 2007 - The Year in Review

Hey Clay,

Here we are once again, your internet fans, taking a look back at 2007 and seeing what you, and we, were up to. We did a lot this year!

You ended 2006 with a wonderful Christmas Tour that featured your marvelous voice and some off-the-cuff banter that had us rolling in the aisles. You showed us that you were a funny, bawdy man with a devilish sense of humor and we ate it up. But, as you know, after the tour was over, we wondered….when will we see you again? Actually we always wonder when we’ll see you again, but that’s pretty usual for us.

Anyhoo….January 28th was the 4th anniversary of your first appearance on American Idol. You remember that little show, don’t you? Heh. We sure do. We remember when a tall, skinny, red-headed kid walked out, all arms and elbows and blew us away with that voice. Four years, Clay.…and here we still are, still blown away by the voice, but by so much more. Your voice, your sense of humor, your kindness, your sarcasm (not everyone likes the sarcasm but a lot do), your foibles, yeah, you have them, and your philanthropic work. Which leads us into your work with UNICEF. At the end of January, you teamed up with Yahoo to promote UNICEF’s life-saving work throughout the world. You did a few Public Service Announcements for UNICEF and a wonderful PSA for the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus. You were still in the news from the end of 2006, featured in the ‘Inside Edition’ segment on ‘Celebrity Feuds’, recounting your ‘feud’ with Kelly Ripa. Geesh.

Your UNICEF work continued in February with an appearance on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer, to speak about the Yahoo Awareness program, asking the public how we think we can get involved and participate in what UNICEF is doing. But before you got to talk about UNICEF, Diane played your Idol audition and with the help of a split screen, we got to see your reaction to your audition. You looked like you enjoyed it as much as we did. Well, maybe not quite as much. Too bad the judges didn’t say anything mean to you in that audition because we would have loved to see you be all feisty in their faces. Oh, well. And Clay, even though Jennifer Hudson got a Golden Globe (and eventually the Oscar), don’t worry, your time will come, we’re positive of that. What was really neat at the GMA appearance was the fan videos. We got to see the interview not only from the perspective of the GMA cameras, but also from the perspective of the audience through the lenses of some of our premiere Clackgatherers. And no, you’re not fat, Clay.

On Valentine’s Day, you made your annual date with Jimmy Kimmel, singing a Valentine song to us using candy hearts for your lyrics. The intro to that was priceless. You played the ‘not knowing what Kimmel was talking about’ bit to perfection. We loved it and we loved you for doing it. Oh, and we love Kimmel as well, but we think that February 2007 shall forevermore be known as the ‘blindingly white’ month. Clay, what in the world did you do to your teeth? *dons shades* Yes, They were so white, we nearly went blind just looking at you! We do have to say that even though your teeth look great, a lot of us miss the chicklets. Yeah, we have a word for your old teeth and some of us mourn the chicklets but as long as you’re happy with the new teeth, so are we. For the most part.

You also did an interview with ‘Be seen, Be Heard’ for ABC about UNICEF, talking about what we can do for UNICEF and about the plight of the children in Uganda, all kinds of things. That’s the kind of interview we like, the ones that are meaty and have really good questions asked of you and you have really good answers for them. And that they last for thirteen minutes. Yeah, we want more of those kinds of interviews.

You appeared as a co-host of the Mike and Juliet Show, the new morning show in New York City, where you judged Juliet’s karaoke singing, then danced with her. The funniest part? When you glued a picture to Juliet’s Diane Von Furstenberg dress and your reaction: "Oh my goodness, I've ruined another talk show!" Don’t know how good the Claymobile and the trivia segment went but any time we see you on TV, it’s a good day. But you gotta learn how to drive stick, Clay! It’s fun!

February wasn’t that busy for you, Clay, at least, not that we knew. Clear Channel premiered your video for ‘A Thousand Days’ and you made a guest appearance with Steven Curtis Chapman at the Winter Jam, singing ‘The Great Adventure’. Of course we have video. Did you ever doubt that? We loved it!

March was a very quiet month for you. Little did we know that you were preparing for a trip overseas for UNICEF. On March 31st, you hosted the ‘Champions for Change’ Gala in Raleigh to raise money for the Bubel/Aiken Foundation. And raise money you did! Well over $300,000 that evening. Good job, Clay. That evening you were funny, charming, hilarious, and, when the bid for the autographed lyrics of ‘Lover All Alone’ fetched $55,000, a bit pensive for just a moment. And what was that ring thing? You know, the rings that you put in your mouth? Used your tongue to play with them? With that devilish look in your eye? You so know. By the way, a lot of us really, really, really loved the beard. You wear it well, Clay, but beard, stubble, or clean-shaven, we like you just the way you are.

April came ‘in like a lion’ with your trip to Afghanistan. Once again, for safety and security reasons, we didn’t know where you were going until after the fact. Some of us guessed but mostly we were hoping for safe travels. And once in Afghanistan, you ran into Diane Sawyer! What a coincidence! GMA ran some footage of you in the schools with the children, and in your native dress with the beard, you kind of looked like Jesu….never mind *g* One of the things we’ll remember most is your enthusiasm for the hope and promise that is Afghanistan and their thirst for education.

At the end of the month you received the Children’s Advocacy Award from The National Center for Learning Disabilities. Congratulations, Clay, keep using that voice of yours. The month ended with a wonderful interview on the Leonard Lopate show and a short segment on The Today Show, discussing your trip to Afghanistan. Um, Clay, your hair was pretty darn perfect on The Today Show. Yes, we can be shallow at times. We ended the month watching your Mother win a dance competition. What a ‘perfect’ song choice.

May brought us yet another Jimmy Kimmel appearance. You made your entrance and did most of the interview……on a horse. A HORSE! What a wild and crazy guy! We saw you in a skit with Kimmel on Dancing With the Stars. Heh. You could have grown your own moustache, Clay *wink* Then you went to Vancouver to appear at a private function with David Foster, Gov Ah-nold, and the Canadian Prime Minister.

June brought us the Pineapple Salad on The Martha Stewart Show repeat. Aww, that was just as cute the second time around. Clay Aiken, cooking his Grandmother’s recipe on National TV. A lot of us made that pineapple salad and most of us liked it. So did our friends and coworkers.

July and August had the Clay Aiken Soft Rock and a Hard Place Tour, or SRAHP Tour. We got us some ballads, we got us some orchestras, we got us some schmoop, and we got us some banter, but we also got us some George Jefferson looking like this tall, skinny pasty white boy, dancing furiously around the stage. We got us some ‘Back and ‘sprung, we got a Keith version of a virgin, we got a sexy tractor and a little country stomp, we got to party all night, Yeah, Yeah, we got an achey breakey heart, and we got whips and chains, we got……..WAIT A MINUTE! Whoa! Hold on there a minute, partner. Whips? Handcuffs? At a Clay Aiken concert. Praise the Lor….I mean, wow! Whips and handcuffs and Clay Aiken in the same breath? Yes, there is a God! *clears throat* Shall we continue? After we got Clay in handcuffs, we got to Beat It. Being a Clay Aiken fan these days is a good thing, yes it is *g*

The other thing the summer tour gave us was some of the most wonderful Meet and Greet experiences ever. Clay, they were perfect. Most of the fans have been saying for years that they’d just like a chance to sit down and talk to you for a few minutes. You eliminated the ‘stand in line like a robot, hi, shake hands, sign, pose, you need to leave’ feeling and really made the M&G’s feel warm and inviting. We hope you liked them as much as we do and we hope that they continue in the same vein in the future.

Um, what’s going on in the friendly skies, Clay? Where has that foot of yours been? We can’t imagine what it was like to wake up to a woman hitting you, but that little incident made all the major news sources for the next several days. It must have pissed you off but all we could do was shake our heads at the sloppy reporting which mentioned only half the truth.

In August, after the tour was over, we didn’t have to wonder when we’d see you again because we knew that you’d be taping ‘Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader’ (AYSTAFG) and the ‘Holiday on Ice’ TV Special (HOI). Of course, the fans attended both. AYSTAFG was especially fun as we read the re-caps, got the low-down, discussed hair and clothes and shoes, and when we realized how many questions you answered and how much money you won for TBAF, we were ecstatic! Another good job, Clay. We all made our pledges.

September was sort of a vast wasteland in the fandom. Since we didn’t have much of you, we had to content ourselves with discussing you and speculating over whether or not you were going to appear in Spamalot. I don’t know where that rumor first appeared but we had fun discussing what part you’d play. In fact, we had so much fun that you posted your second post on the ofc telling us that we crack you up and you don’t know where we get our crazy speculations. You laughed at us. Pfft, Clay, you know that we know that you know that we know where you are and what you do before you know it. Well, mostly we do, although you’ve been getting pret.ty darn good at hiding things lately. Another thing we speculated about was the press release from Kim Locke’s camp about the ‘Reunited Tour’ with you, Ruben, and Kim. Some fans hated the idea and were very vocal about it, some fans liked the idea and were very vocal about it but in the end, you had to blog that it wasn’t going to happen. You’re a very diplomatic man, Mr. Aiken.

October was a Clay-filled month! You appeared at the UNICEF launch of Jenna Bush’s book, ‘Ana’s Story: A Story of Hope’, and your appearance there spawned mentions on both ‘Inside Edition’ and The Insider’. A week later, you appeared, at least vocally, as the narrator of ‘American Idol Rewind, Season 2’. Let me tell you how happy we were just to hear that sweet, southern accent every week in our homes, and the short interviews were a lot of fun. But the biggest news?? We’d get to see AI in high-definition! Five years ago, HD was just a twinkle in someone’s eye and our capping and downloading equipment wasn’t the most sophisticated so most of our AI-Season 2 downloads are pretty crappy. Now we’ll get a chance to replace them with the HD version. Squeee! Although most of us don’t like the bad auditions and we’re waiting for the Top 12 to start, we do like seeing all the finalists like Ruben and Trenyce and KLO and Carmen and Rickey, Julia and Charles, Josh and Vanessa.

Also in October you asked us to submit stories and to be a part of your Christmas Tour. So we did. You can ask us to do just about anything and we’ll do it, well, mostly. So you asked. We answered. And answered. And we wrote and wrote and wrote and you blogged about it. And blogged. And blogged. Teacher!Clay! was out in full force. Be careful what you wish for, Clay, because we’ll give it to you. In spades. In the form of stories and stories and more stories. 1,500, 1,600, 2,000, 4,000, you kept changing the amount of stories that were submitted. Your eyes must have crossed several times during your readings of our memories. At first, I think we were a bit apprehensive about how the stories would work, if they would take away from our ClayTime on stage, but you managed to fit them in beautifully. Not everyone agreed with that assessment but most of us do. Some of us would still prefer that you gave us more of you on stage instead of the fans but as usual, you’ll do it your way. Although the individual notices came a bit late, and some of the reader substitutions didn’t work out, everything seemed to work on stage in the context of the concert. We just hope that, through our stories, you got to know us a bit; that you got to know some of your fans as individuals instead of the nameless faces populating the concerts.

The end of October brought us all to Avery Fisher Hall for ‘Neil Sedaka’s 50th Anniversary at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center’ and your powerhouse performance. According to all who attended, you brought the house down! As usual. Another job well done, Clay! Oh, and you snuck in a press release about one Mr. Clay Aiken joining the cast of Spamalot. Hmmm, remember, you laughed at our speculation, we cracked you up. He who laughs last, laughs best, mister *g*

On the 1st of November, FOX aired your AYSTAFG episode and America saw that you won $300,000! Way to go, Clay! Way to go! You could have won even more but as a prudent man, you chose to keep the money in hand rather than bet on a chimera. We think, in the end, you made the right decision. It was a really fun appearance for all of us. That day, while we were in front of our TV sets, you were at Yale University, speaking on the importance of geography in children’s education along with the keynote speaker, the Ambassador of Indonesia. You keep good company, Clay. You are a ‘quality human being and a man of character’. And yes, we have video. Not fan video because that time you kept it quiet, but we do have the downloads of the local TV news who covered it. On the 6th, you taped “Capital One’s Holiday Celebration on Ice” featuring Olympic Silver Medalist Sasha Cohen, to be aired on Christmas day. We were in attendance. Lots of us were in attendance and we got, yep, you guessed it, video. It was so good to see you again and you did a really good job. We think some of the skaters had a teeny crush on you, Clay. We know ‘smitten’ when we see it.

For the next 20 days, we didn’t see you. You were probably putting in hours upon hours of rehearsal time for the upcoming tour, well, four days worth, per your blog. At least you were putting in thousands of hours blogging about how we don’t follow directions, how our stories were too long, or too short, or how we may be asked for audio submissions. But you were also blogging about how we’re helping you make new lasting Christmas memories. That’s a really nice thing to say. One thing, Clay. When you asked us to wear all black, five days before the first concert, there was a slight panic because women, you know, those wonderful creatures that are foreign to most men, women plan their outfits w-a-y in advance. Just a little reminder for the next time. What? It’ll be a cold day in hell before you ask us for stories again? Heh. Bite your tongue.

Happy birthday Clay! There were many different ideas thrown out on the ofc as to what to get you for your birthday, some a bit far-fetched, but one idea took hold and the fandom went with it. One of your fans proposed a book drive in your name to benefit the Kalamazoo Public School System. The Kalamazoo Communities in School helped to coordinate the book drive. In the end, there were 1,216 books and $685 worth of gift cards collected for your birthday. You have some of the most amazing fans on this earth.

On November 26th into December, the ‘Christmas in the Heartland’ tour rolled across, if not America, then certainly ClayLand, to the delight of those of us on the east coast and in the Midwest, but to the despair to those of us on the west coast. Some of us were disappointed that you didn’t banter, that the concerts this year were a bit more reverent than last year, but you were in great voice, Clay. Angela and Quiana sounded wonderful, and Jesse’s scores were really brilliant. This had to be the Tour of the Hair because it seems that in each city, it was a different style and a different color. Please tell Jamie that she did a really good job, especially towards the end of the tour. Also this tour was the Tour of the Glasses. Speculation on the boards is that you’re going to get Lasik so you don’t have to worry about glasses or contacts on Broadway. Come on, Clay, you can tell us. We won’t tell a soul.

Back to the tour. The readings went well, the body count wasn’t that high, and the M&G’s were the same as the summer tour. The fans that were chosen to read their stories all did a wonderful job and the stories flowed into the songs, just as you predicted. You really gave us a lot of information in the M&G’s this year, too. They were open, informal, informative, and in the case of Morristown, eye-opening. Yes, most of the fandom is talking about that M&G. We have the re-caps from the fans in attendance so we know what happened. I guess we’re just sorry that you had to deal with something so unpleasant.

We’re going to end this re-cap as we began it, with UNICEF. Once the Tour ended, you left for Mexico with your mom, Faye, and your brother, Brett, doing one of the things that you do best, inspiring people to help those in need and to donate their time and/or money for those causes that affect children the world over. Your visit received very good media coverage this trip, Clay. At the same time that you were in Mexico, UNICEF ran their ‘Help Clay raise $100,000 by December 31st’ fund-raising campaign. It was such a short time period and at an especially rough time for a lot of families, but you know what? You did it! We did it! The $100,000 mark was reached around 4:30 pm eastern time, December 31st, just in time for those of us on the boards to celebrate before leaving for our New Years festivities. The total amount is around $109,665 as we write this. We bet UNICEF just loves you to pieces. We do, too.

Usually we wonder, after the Christmas tour is over, when we will see you again. This year, we don’t have to wonder. A lot of us will be at The Shubert Theater on January 18, 2008, for your Broadway debut. We know that you’ll be wonderful in your role as Sir Robin and that the cast will love you as we do, but allow us to be just a tad nervous for you. It’s a big step you’re taking, career-wise, and we wish you all the luck in the world and we hope that you ‘break a leg’ in stage parlance. We also hope that you’ll do the stage door thingy because we’ll be out there, freezing our buns off, right there waiting.

For 2008, Clay, we wish you health and happiness, love and fulfillment, family and good friends, continued personal and career success. We wish you all that you desire for yourself, your family and friends, and the children throughout the world who need it. We wish you contentment and happiness. And we’re going to be a bit selfish and wish you a Pop CD in the first half of 2008, radio play, and a kick-ass summer tour. But most of all, we wish you love.

~Your internet friends