“American Idol” Bigwigs Continue To Screw With Josiah Leming

noah | October 30, 2008 10:30 am

Those of you who haven’t bleached the last season of American Idol from your brains yet may remember Josiah Leming, the weepy Conor Oberst-y contestant who lived in his car in the weeks leading up to his audition and who got cut from the top 24 in favor of that former boybander who wore a wig in an effort to be “rock.” Well, things worked out OK for Leming in the end: He got snapped up by Reprise, and his debut album for the label is scheduled to be out sometime early next year… at least, if the Idol producers don’t drag him through a contractual loophole that forces him to be turned down by 19 Entertainment before he can do anything else. Because apparently humiliating him once wasn’t enough! Oh, and did I mention that his mom is dying of cancer?

JOSIAH Leming, a homeless singer whose mother is dying of cancer, might be blocked from releasing the album he recorded because he was a contestant last season on “American Idol.”

Leming, 19, who didn’t make the show’s top 24, received an official letter from “Idol” threatening legal action if he puts out his record in January as planned.

“Idol” contestants must sign strict contracts with the show’s producer, Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, promising to record only with the label chosen by “Idol” – Sony/BMG. The 19 Entertainment shop also retains exclusive right of refusal for management and merchandising.

When the smash-hit show began in 2002, only finalists had to sign the contract – but now it’s mandatory for all contestants.

A rep for Leming, who grew up in Tennessee as one of eight siblings, said, “Josiah was the only ‘Idol’ contestant ever to get a record deal who didn’t make the top 24, and one of only four contestants to get a deal this year. He has personal reasons for getting his music out, threat or not.”

It’s probably on point to note that Idol‘s producers this year allowed more people who made it through to Hollywood last year to re-audition, and that rule change still didn’t help the audition numbers from falling. Maybe they’re trying to woo Josiah back, what with the all-the-way success this year of “rocker” David Cook? Or maybe they’re just afraid of having egg on their faces when the former cast-off’s debut release succeeds more than, say, Kristy Lee Cook, whose album has sold a paltry 19,000 copies in its first week on the charts?