'American Idol' Winner Phillip Phillips Files Legal Claim to Escape 'Oppressive' Contract
Phillip Phillips is taking legal action against American Idol's co-producers 19 Entertainment.
In a complaint lodged with the California Labor Commissioner on Jan. 22, theAmerican Idol season 11 winner claims that the producers have "manipulated" him into accepting jobs and entering into other transactions that were actually for the benefit of 19 and its affiliates, and is seeking to void his management, recording and merchandising agreements with the producer.
In the court documents which ET has obtained, Phillips says he "remains grateful [to American Idol] for the opportunities provided to him to demonstrate to the world and capitalize upon his talent, creativity and diligence." However, "the appreciation does not extend to the oppressive, fatally conflicted 19 Entertainment, Inc."
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Phillips' multiple complaints include being forced to perform in a live show promoting Idol sponsor Jet Blue for free amongst other similarly questionable gigs, the production company getting as much as a 40 percent cut of his endorsement deals, and information on important career matters being withheld from him. For example, the 24-year-old "Gone, Gone, Gone" singer claims that the title of his most recent album, Behind the Light, was decided without his approval and then announced in the press without him being given any advance notice.
He alleges his current contract is a violation of the Talent Agencies Act, a California law that says only licensed talent agents can procure employment for clients.
"The value that the fans and the show have given to my career is not lost on me," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
19 Entertainment denies the claims in the petition.
"We're very proud of everything we’ve accomplished together with Phillip, working closely to help nurture his extraordinary talent and advance his career," a spokesperson for 19 tells THR. "We have always acted in the best interest of Phillip. We will vigorously defend ourselves from any baseless claims to the contrary and from any attempt to interfere with our rights and relationships."
Phillips won American Idol in May 2012, and has since enjoyed some career success. In particular, his coronation song on the show, "Home," sold over four million copies in the U.S. and was used by NBC in their Olympic coverage.
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American Idol is currently in its 14th season. In October, ET special correspondent Lance Bass went to the show's "Hollywood Week" for some candid interviews with judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. as well as host Ryan Seacrest.