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April - June 2007

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From People.com:

Clay Aiken: 'Idol Is a Drug'

By Constance Richards

Sure, American Idol is what made Clay Aiken a star, but this season the singer decided he just can't watch the show anymore. "I realized if I watched the first one, I'd probably not sleep until the next week and I watched the second one," he told PEOPLE recently at the Champions of Change gala held in his Raleigh, N.C., hometown to benefit his Bubel/Aiken Foundation for children with disabilities. "And I just like not having that chain in my life that I'm tied down to watching it every week." Though he's no longer setting his DVR on Tuesdays and Wednesdays anymore, we found out what's keeping the Idol star busy – from recording a new album to his charity work.

Have you been keeping up with this season's American Idol?

It's the first year I haven't watched it.

Not at all?

Not one time. And I've done it on purpose.

Why is that?

Just don't want to. Too much stress for me. I don't know, I just always get stressed out when I watch it.

Are you stressed out for the underdogs, or just the whole competition in general?

I feel like Idol is a drug of some kind. Like you think you can't live without it until you finally do, and then you realize, "You know what? Life is fine without this show. I'm gonna be okay" (laughs). Not that I've done drugs! 'Cause I realized if I watched the first one, I'd probably not sleep until the next week and I watched the second one. And I just like not having that chain in my life, that I'm tied down to watching it every week.

Do you have a new album in the works?

We are going to be going out on tour this summer. And we're actually looking into making another album pretty soon. This time we're going to do something more creative. And so I'm excited about that, 'cause I'm looking forward to having a little more free reign than I've had in the past. Each time I've done an album, I've had a little more creative control over what happens.

What would you recommend to Idol contestants about making the most of their fame?

I think that where I am today is a direct result of God's plan to put me in each place in my life. Find something that you are passionate about that gives back to your community. I think there's a misconception that really upsets me when people say, "If you're in the public eye you have an obligation to let me know when you're gettin' married, who you're gettin' married to and who you're dating." That's bull. But you do have an obligation to be a role model. From the beginning, I realize I got this only because God wanted me to be here. I think anybody who has any microphone to use who doesn't use it for the benefit of those around him is remiss.

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Bottle,

Just finished reading this little ditty on another site. I can see some "Clay fans" up in arms over this especially the paragraph about not knowing his business ie: marriage, dating etc. Now I don't have a problem with that, because I personally believe in if I tell you, I make it your business, if I don't tell you, then it is not your business. So I guess Clay and I have a con.nec.tion. LOL. But like I said, the Clay pods are going to have a field day with this one. I am just going to duck a while and let the fur fly.

:TourExcite: :F_05BL17blowkiss: :allgood: :pod:

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UN News Center

‘American Idol’ star and UNICEF ambassador Clay Aiken spotlights Afghanistan

11 April 2007 – United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and singer Clay Aiken is currently on his first visit to Afghanistan, aiming to raise awareness about the hope and promise he has seen in the young people of the war-torn country.

“The people here are very strong and they are very proud of their country,” Mr. Aiken told reporters in Kabul today, praising the “strength and conviction of the Afghan people and their ability to make sure that this country returns to its glory after such a long darkness.”

The singer, who gained a name on the televised talent competition ‘American Idol,’ has been a Goodwill Ambassador since 2004, has been in Afghanistan for the past week to see first-hand the grassroots health and education projects being delivered by UNICEF.

“It has been a long winter for Afghanistan and it is Spring time finally,” he said, adding that he is “thrilled” to be associated with UNICEF’s support for the country’s rebuilding efforts.

Traveling with UNICEF country representative for Afghanistan Catherine Mbengue and his high school teacher Mary Props, Mr. Aiken has visited schools in Kabul and in Bamiyan.

In Kabul, he met young women at Macfee High School who “have an amazing positive outlook on their future now,” he said.

Mr. Aiken called Bamiyan one of the most beautiful places he has ever seen, and mentioned one school he visited there in particular where boys and girls were being educated together. He also visited clinics where he had the opportunity to administer polio vaccine to a newborn baby.

“I have never in my life seen such a thirst and an excitement for learning,” he said, joking that his former teacher, Ms. Props, was very jealous of how eager students in Afghanistan are to attend school.

Calling the people of Afghanistan the country’s “greatest natural resource,” Mr. Aiken said that he also hopes to inform people in the United States, who he said too often associate Afghanistan with conflicts, troops and military activities, of the genuine desire on the part of children to learn.

“If we did see more about the kids [in the media], we will see more positive support and help,” noted Mr. Aiken.

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UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken vists Afghanistan

UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken visits Afghanistan

NEW YORK, USA, 18 April 2007 – UNICEF National Ambassador Clay Aiken has visited central Afghanistan to see for himself how UNICEF is trying to improve life for children in the region.

“We met a number of young women who have an amazing outlook on their future now in post-conflict Afghanistan,” said the US pop star. “There is an amazing sense of hope, an amazing sense of promise, not only in the country but in the youth as well.”

At the Sadat Health Clinic near Bamyan, Mr. Aiken saw lifesaving measures in action and even administered the oral polio vaccination to a newborn baby. Besides providing immunization, the clinic offers family planning services and midwives to advise mothers on breastfeeding and good hygiene practices.

People from other villages sometimes walk up to four hours in order to reach the clinic.

UNICEF supports Sadat Health Clinic by training health staff in hygiene education, vaccines, integrated maternal and child health, and nutrition. The organization has also assisted with the construction of water points and latrines to provide safe drinking water and sanitation.

Literacy for girls and women

During his two-day stay in Bamyan, Mr. Aiken also visited the Said Aabad women’s literacy centre, which UNICEF helped to establish last October. He heard from girls and women aged 16 to 50 about how they were learning to read and write for the first time, and the subsequent impact on their lives

In Bamyan Province, the literacy rate is 6 per cent for women and 44 per cent for men. UNICEF currently supports over 95 literacy courses in the province and is working to create 30 new literacy centres there due to high demand.

“Educated women can contribute effectively to the reduction of child and maternal mortality rates,” said UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Catherine Mbengue, who joined Mr. Aiken on this visit. “Educated women will be able to voice their concerns and also make better decisions in regard to family planning.”

Ms. Mbengue also urged government officials to make adult literacy initiatives a priority and to ensure the active involvement of women in training programmes and activities.

Rebuilding schools, training teachers

Despite challenging, bumpy paths in the mountainous region, the delegation members continued with their visit to meet hundreds of girl students at Shirin Hazara School in Foladi Valley, west of Bamyan. There, Mr. Aiken spent time with students and the teachers in their outdoor classrooms.

“As a former teacher, I recognize that spark of hope and excitement all children possess when given the opportunity to learn,” he said. “Rebuilding schools, training teachers, providing essential supplies and teaching materials are just some of the advances UNICEF and its partners have made to keep that hope flourishing.”

Still, girls’ school enrolment in Bamyan remains low at just 38 per cent, compared to 62 per cent for boys. Although Mr. Aiken witnessed positive moves to address this situation and make lasting improvements for young people, at least 30 per cent of the province’s school-age children – over a million in all – are not even enrolled in school.

That fact alone shows there is still much work to be done.

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Clay Aiken: The ET Exclusive!

In an exclusive ET interview, CLAY AIKEN shows his support for fallen "Idol" SANJAYA MALAKAR, saying, "I rooted for him. I was disappointed when he got cut."

Sanjaya's attention-grabbing tactic of dramatically changing his hairstyle every week proved to be a good move for the controversial contestant, who managed enough votes to make it into the final seven.

"Good for him," Clay tells our JANN CARL. "He carved a niche for himself."

He adds that Sanjaya's bold style choices got his respect.

"Anybody who is comfortable enough to go in front of millions of people on TV with a Mohawk has my vote," he says.

The 28-year-old North Carolina native has gone a long way since his days at "American Idol" -- literally! He just returned from Afghanistan as part of his work as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

But even though he grew out a beard during his trip, the facial hair did little to disguise his famous face.

"Some of the girls giggled just a little bit," he says. "But they're very shy. Everybody who we met were just really hospitable and totally welcoming."

The trip was not without some drawbacks, however.

"I would be lying if I said that I was not nervous," Clay says. "I was very nervous before I left. I hugged all my family, said goodbye." His stay proved to be an eye-opening experience.

"It was interesting," he says. I was actually in Kabul at the same time DIANE SAWYER was and she was at a hotel less than a mile away from where we were. We were trying to get together for dinner, but we couldn't because she couldn't leave her hotel and I couldn't leave mine [at night]. That's the situation in Kabul."

For more of our Clay Aiken exclusive, watch tonight's ET!

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Leonard Lopate Show April 26, 2007

In Another Light

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Clay Aiken became a household name through American Idol. He’s here today to talk about becoming a UNICEF ambassador, and working to bring the everyday lives of children in Afghanistan to the spotlight. Then, a psychologist explains why reports of genocide often get little response. Later on, a discussion about how to understand and appreciate photography. And we talk about the importance of Marc Chagall's art. Plus: a historian argues that teen culture was created in the 1890s.

Underreported: Clay Aiken on Afghanistan

Clay Aiken has had plenty of media exposure. But he joins us for today’s Underreported to talk about a subject that doesn’t get a lot of press: health care and education in Afghanistan. Clay Aiken recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan as a UNICEF Ambassador, where he helped launch the "$100,000 in 10 Days" campaign to support Afghanistan's health centers and schools.

There's a link on the page that has pictures, including two new ones, from his trip.

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AllDay: Live from Studio 1A Blog: Q & A with Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken sat down with Al Roker, David Gregory and Dr. Nancy Snyderman today to talk about his recent work with UNICEF USA in Afghanistan (WATCH VIDEO).

Before his appearance on the show, I got to talk to him for a quick Q&A. Here is some of our conversation (edited for content):

Q: When did you get back from Afghanistan, how long were you there and what were you doing?

Clay Aiken: I got back on Wednesday, and I was there for about two weeks. It was a really eye-opening experience and was interesting because a lot of stereotypes were broken down for me. The people there were wonderfully nice, and the country was really beautiful and peaceful. It was a little surprising because of all the news we hear from over there.

[Clay sees a video clip of President Bush dancing with a Senegalese dance troupe in the Rose Garden on Wednesday]

What in the world is he doing? Please, be joking.

[He regains his train of thought.]

I was observing programs run by UNICEF, observing schools where women are getting an education, often for the first time in their lives.

Q: Why were you particularly attracted to this trip?

CA: I used to be a teacher. I was a special-ed teacher in North Carolina, so there was some synergy there.

Q: You're familiar with our "Where in the World is Matt Lauer" series, which begins on Monday. What's the most interesting place you've been to, and where would you like to go that you haven't been to before?

CA: Well, definitely Afghanistan was the most interesting place. Not just because it was exotic and dangerous, to some degree, but also because it is so beautiful and peaceful. It's the third country I've been to with UNICEF -- I had previously been to Uganda and Indonesia. But I had never been to a place that beautiful and peaceful.

As for a place I'd like to go...I'd like to go to Zanzibar. I imagine it's beautiful, and it makes me sound smart to say I know where it is.

Q: Apparently there's a version of "American Idol" in Afghanistan -- did you see it?

CA: It's called "Afghan Star," and I didn't get to see it.

Q: Have you been able to follow the current season of "American Idol"?

CA: I haven't seen any of it.

Q: Have you heard anything about Sanjaya and his performances?

CA: We were actually in India when everything was happening with him, and people over there were talking about it.

Q: The big entertainment news today is that Rosie O'Donnell is leaving "The View" in June. Any reaction?

CA: Good for her. Do what you want to do. But she will be missed on that show. But I'm sure she'll do something just as big and fantastical -- if that's a word -- as she did when she was on "The View."

Q: What's next for you?

CA: I have a tour coming up this summer. It starts July 4 in Dallas, and tickets are on sale now.

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AirTran Airways Inflight Magazine

Home Turf

AIKEN CASTS HIS VOTE

After finding fame, this American pop singer has had the opportunity to travel the world, only to realize the city he truly loves is his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.

When does being named a “first runner-up” translate into becoming No. 1? Well, for Raleigh, North Carolina, native and pop musician Clay Aiken, it was when he took second place during season two of the reality TV show “American Idol.”

While Aiken, now 28, may have seen fellow Southerner Ruben Studdard win the contest by a narrow margin of votes, Aiken’s record sales have since shot to first place. His first solo album, Measure of a Man, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2003, then went double platinum and became the highest-selling debut album for a solo artist in a decade. Not fully satisfied with his success, Aiken’s Merry Christmas With Love album sold more than a million copies in six weeks and became the best-selling holiday album of 2004. Not only that, his book Learning to Sing; Hearing the Music in Your Life debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2005. His latest album, A Thousand Different Ways, covers some of pop and rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest love songs.

Aiken may have become a global superstar in a scant three years, but he continues to call North Carolina, and the Raleigh area in particular, home. “I still live in the town where I grew up,” he says. “I like surrounding myself with people I know and love.” Aiken was winding up a successful US tour and happily heading home to Raleigh—nicknamed “The City of Oaks” because of its parks and public gardens—when we caught up with him.

In the last couple of years, you’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world; how does Raleigh stack up?

Raleigh has all of the things one would find in a much larger city—great shopping, good nightlife, fantastic cultural arts. But at the same time it has a quaint, small-town feel. People aren’t in a hurry; they are focused on friendliness and quality of life. No other city I can think of does that.

Raleigh’s been ranked in almost every publication as one of the best places to live in the country. Here’s a little known fact: The Triangle (the three-city area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, home to a large number of research science companies) has one of the highest number of PhDs per-capita of anywhere in the world. These are folks who work hard all week long and then head to the lake for the weekend and turn their Blackberries and cell phones off.

Any myths about Raleigh you’d like to set straight?

Well, first of all, Raleigh is the state capital… not Charlotte! I’ve had so many people introduce me as a “country guy” from a “small town,” and that always makes me laugh. The Raleigh area is home to over a million people, and it isn’t a “podunk” town; it is actually very progressive.

Are there any activities that you always do with out-of-town visitors?

The Governor’s Mansion (also known as the Executive Mansion) is the largest governor’s mansion in the country, and it has a lot of history. Prisoners actually built it back in the 1800s, and, as you walk the sidewalks around the block, you can see where many of them carved their names in the bricks.

And Krispy Kreme is a place I always take my guests. You can’t beat a hot glazed. So many people around the country are now hooked on Krispy Kreme since they have expanded nationwide, but we North Carolinians have enjoyed them for decades.

The South has a major reputation for its barbecues; what should visitors know about finding good barbecue in Raleigh?

Listen, we know how to eat in the South! First of all, in North Carolina, “barbecue” is a noun, not a verb. And, there are several types of barbecue. In western North Carolina, barbecue is pulled pork that is smothered in a tomato-based sauce. South Carolinians use a mustard-based sauce on their pork, but in Raleigh and eastward you’ll find pulled pork smothered in a vinegar and red pepper sauce. It cannot be beat. Pick any of the local barbecue joints— the older and more run down the restaurant, the better! —Betsy Model

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Yahoo Music: An Idol Who Really Gives Back

An Idol Who Really Gives Back

05/07/2007 7:00 PM, Yahoo! Music

Laura Hertzfeld

Before charming the hearts of American Idol fans in 2003, singer Clay Aiken was a teacher, focusing on special education in his native North Carolina. Today, in addition to performing and recording, Clay acts as an education ambassador for UNICEF, most recently in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Still jetlagged, Clay told Yahoo! Music in his smooth drawl why Idol Gives Back won't solve the poverty problem, what it was like to grow a beard and wear long robes, and why he never sings when visiting schools abroad.

YAHOO! MUSIC: What were your overall impressions of Afghanistan?

CLAY: I think, more than anything, the trip to me was a stereotype-breaker because there are so many times in the U.S. that we see in the news the negative things that happen in Afghanistan. We see the headcoverings and we think Muslim, we hear about suicide bombings and terrorists, and we think "Middle East." Afghanistan's not in the Middle East, it's in South Asia, and it's not a desert. My friends were all, "It must have been so hot there!" But you can see in some of the pictures the snow-capped mountains. There are many parts of Afghanistan that are really quite a lush landscape. I had a lot of misconceptions about the country and about the people there.

YAHOO! MUSIC: Why education?

CLAY: Well you know, I was a teacher, so education is kind of important to me. I focus on education mainly with UNICEF on every trip that I take. A number of schools [in Afghanistan] were destroyed during the Taliban era. The schools that were around only housed male students--girls were not allowed to go to school. So now there are twice the number of students and there's just not enough room to hold these kids. They are sitting outside on the ground all day.

YAHOO! MUSIC: The Idol Gives Back charity event raised more than $70 million. Could you relate to what you saw your fellow idols doing in Africa and other places?

CLAY: I think there's definitely a problem--and I'll point to recent charity events--when people go and they talk about the need in an area or a country and they don't have the information. If you come back and you talk about the need in a country and don't know what's going on in the country, then you're completely remiss. There's always a greater cause [to poverty] than throwing money at the issue, and I think the strongest solution, the strongest weapon we have against poverty and hunger is education. When you take a look at something like Idol Gives Back and you realize that the main piece of information we got is that people are hungry in Africa, but we didn't find out why they are hungry in Africa and we didn't out where in Africa they are hungry, nor did we find out the major causes. Without the education about what's going on in the country, we're doing no service except for perpetuating that same stereotype that Africa, or any other country in the world, is lesser than the U.S., and we're in the role that we have to give to them.

YAHOO! MUSIC: Did you perform for the kids you met in Afghanistan? How did they like your music?

CLAY: [Laughing] I made the mistake in Uganda of performing for some kids who were in a night commuter center, and they were singing a song and they were clapping. It was kind of a joyful, cheerful song. They didn't know me, but they had heard that I was a singer, and so they asked me to sing a song, and I couldn't think of what to sing. And someone whispered to me, "Sing 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.'" And so I got through maybe a line of the song before the kids started laughing at me so hard. They'd never heard any music like that before in their lives. So I've made it a point when I take these trips to never sing.

YAHOO! MUSIC: Maybe someday you'll get a request.

CLAY: Maybe next time I take a trip I'll make it a point to learn a native song.

YAHOO! MUSIC: Do you have a favorite story of any of the people you met in Afghanistan or a moment during your trip that touched you the most?

CLAY: One of the things that stuck with me more than anything else was just the hunger, the thirst for education. I mean, these kids wanted to go to school. My social studies teacher [who accompanied me on the trip]--she was quite jealous. She's been teaching for 30 years and she's never had a class full of students who wanted to be there as much as these kids in Afghanistan wanted to be there.

YAHOO! MUSIC: How has your work with UNICEF influenced your music? What do you take back with you?

CLAY: Every time I come back from these situations, you take a look at what's important to you, and how privileged we are, and it's easy to take that back. But it's important to remember that we have to be a proactive society. It's interesting to me to look at Afghanistan and realize that there are countries all around the world that we haven't looked at because they haven't affected us and yet, one of these days it's possible that one of them could affect us. Had we taken a hard look at the needs of women and children in Afghanistan in 1996, it's possible that we could have prevented September 11, 2001.

YAHOO! MUSIC: How did it feel to be an American in Afghanistan? Were you welcomed in the towns you visited?

CLAY: One of the main things to remember is that people in Afghanistan did not like the Taliban, either. I was worried going in, imagining what I was going to be involved with and what I was going to find myself running into. But, it was quite different. The people were nothing but hospitable, they were completely welcoming and so wonderful. We really just had nothing but a warm welcome everywhere. I thought [Kabul] was going to be a lot more antiquated. It's a bustling metropolis. There was wireless internet in our hotel, glass elevators, it was right inside a shopping mall like we'd see in the U.S. It's not some sort of deprived and destitute city like I expected to see.

YAHOO! MUSIC: I saw in pictures of you that you'd changed your looks a bit to fit in there.

CLAY: I wanted to be culturally respectful to the country and the people there. It's kind of part of their culture to be bearded and to be dressed appropriately. But that again is kind of part of the stereotype about Afghanistan, but there's quite a bit of what I guess we'd call "Western" attire in the country.

YAHOO! MUSIC: How can young people get involved?

CLAY: Learn about the things! You have to be educated about what's going on in your world. You have to know the problems. Poverty and hunger are only the effects of larger problems.

YAHOO! MUSIC: Why is it important for celebrities to be the face of UNICEF?

CLAY: I haven't necessarily heard too much negative, but I think the main problem is the media's attention. We are a society that only pays attention to in the media. We put too much emphasis on celebrities. And even though I am one and I don't mind the attention every once in a while, it's sad that you have to have a celebrity to bring attention to these causes.

YAHOO! MUSIC: Do you still watch American Idol, and do you have an opinion on who's going to win this season?

CLAY: No comment.

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Raleigh New & Observer

In this off-Broadway musical, Clay's the thing

David Menconi, Staff Writer

When "Idol: The Musical" hits the stage in New York next month, Clay Aiken won't be there in person. But there will be a bust of Raleigh's hometown "American Idol" star onstage, and someone singing "Burnin' Hunk o' Clay" to it.

Yes, Aiken is coming to the theatrical stage, but only as inspiration. "Idol: The Musical" is billed as a musical farce about a "delusional group of 'Idol' fans in search of fame." It begins previews at New York's off-Broadway 45th Street Theatre on July 5.

Aiken himself is not involved with the project. Janice Riley, his personal assistant in Raleigh, declined to comment.

The cast of "Idol: The Musical" consists of eight high school seniors in Steubenville, Ohio, where they've built a shrine to Aiken in a barn and meet every day to worship. There's a basketball player who would rather be a male stripper in Chippendales, a goth girl, a cowboy with poor fashion sense, a guy who plays accordion while reciting Shakespeare -- and Emily, the leader, whose fantasy it is to marry Aiken someday.

"That just sounds over-the-top from beginning to end," says Paul Baragona, an Aiken fan from Raleigh. Still, early reactions on the Aiken message boards have been surprisingly upbeat.

"It does not attack anyone or anything in any way," says "Idol" producer Todd Ellis, who calls himself an Aiken fan. "It does look at the fan base of 'American Idol' and Clay, but also anything out there that people glom onto. It's a farce that looks at how America deifies the idols in our society."

Because of copyright and trademark laws, none of Aiken's music appears in "Idol." Composer Jon Balcourt wrote the score and Bill Boland, who co-produced the Academy Award-winning 2005 short film "West Bank Story," wrote the script.

"Idol" is scheduled for eight weeks of previews in New York and an official opening in mid-August at the 99-seat 45th Street Theatre, followed by a move to a larger venue if ticket sales are high enough. "Idol" premiered June 1 in Syracuse, prompting one online reviewer to call it "the 'Forrest Gump' of musicals."

And how did the hard-core Claymates react?

"The audience loved the show. It's universal, an everyman story," said Ellis. "Everyone wants something better than what they have, to be discovered."

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Raleigh New & Observer

In this off-Broadway musical, Clay's the thing

David Menconi, Staff Writer

"It does not attack anyone or anything in any way," says "Idol" producer Todd Ellis, who calls himself an Aiken fan. "It does look at the fan base of 'American Idol' and Clay, but also anything out there that people glom onto. It's a farce that looks at how America deifies the idols in our society."

And how did the hard-core Claymates react?

"The audience loved the show. It's universal, an everyman story," said Ellis. "Everyone wants something better than what they have, to be discovered."

Hmmm....I have to wonder about all of this. I've heard several people in the past call themselves "Clay fans" and proceed to make him fit the image they want others to see and I don't mean in a good way. AGENDA people. But I will hold off coming to any conclusions until I have read/heard feedback from fans I am familiar with on the boards I visit. I hope it is not a subliminal (or otherwise) bashing of Clay and his fans. I hope the press statements I have read, which sound uncomfortably negative/bias IMO, is all based on those who have yet to legitimately review it.

There is also some crap piece (I will not link it) regarding those auditioning for the show in NYC (looks fishy to me). It has actors pics and quotes them saying some questionable mumbo jumbo about why they are auditioning or even about Clay. It's kinda rude and makes me question any legitimacy of this whole thing. Maybe I'm the "delusional fan". ?

Is this making any sense to anybody except me?

thought not :RedGuy:

mumbo jumbo???

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This is only remotely Clay related but I didn't want to STINK up the main board with it.

FYI

Remember, Ness got Capone on a secondary legal charge ;)

Well, a girl can dream can't she.

LOOKS LIKE PH IS IN BIG TROUBLE !!! HEHE

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What Goes Around...comes Around

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Perez Hilton blog having problems

Crucial dims site's lights after copyright claims

By PETER GILSTRAP

Hilton

In what may be the first hit against bloggerazzi star Perez Hilton's empire, his main webhost has dropped Perezhilton.com.

After numerous warnings against Hilton's (aka Mario Lavandeira) use of copyrighted celebrity images, the Oz-based Crucial Paradigm took the site off line; it was dark for a number of hours before it returned to the Internet with a different host.

Hilton is currently named in four lawsuits involving eight photo agencies for his alleged theft of photographs that appear on his site, one that's been a popular gossip destination for some 2½ years. Hilton frequently adds his own captions to the shots.

"One of the things the (Crucial) administrator in Sydney had told us the day before was if they received any more notices -- any claim of copyright infringement -- the site is coming down immediately," said Matt Lum, owner of Hoodlum Productions, the L.A.-based company that manages Hilton's site. "The action was taken, in my opinion, to insure Crucial some sort of proof if they were sued, some way to protect themselves."

Crucial Paradigm had no comment on the action.

Hilton's site is up and running, albeit on less than full power.

"He has a skeleton or temporary situation where he can still post," Lum explained. "It has limited inter-activity, his archives are not there and things like that. We've enabled him to continue to do what he does to a limited degree until we can figure how to handle the larger situation."

What he does -- limited or not -- is exactly the problem, from the agency point of view.

"It's the first victory, and we put a lot of work into trying to get this to happen," said Francois Navarre, co-owner of L.A.-based X17 agency. His company has filed a suit against Hilton, claiming that Hilton has been using X17 images for nearly a year. "It's a precedent that's huge. When we were talking to Crucial Paradigm they were saying they were not responsible, dragging their feet. We had to threaten them and show them they were liable. His new host is Blogads, and we're contacting them already."

"If it's correct, it's a very important event in our client's lawsuit," stated Nick Penkovsky, a member of the legal team representing five agencies suing Hilton. "It's always been our position that this lawsuit is not simply about protecting our clients' work, but that copyrighted work is not free to be poached for posting on the Internet without permission and compensation."

Hilton, who has contended that his actions fall under the fair use provision of the Copyright Act, did not respond to Daily Variety.

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Clay Aiken Adds Dates to Magical Holiday Tour 2007

Clay Aiken has proven he's a popular concert artist and with the summer tour opener just 10 days away, November and December dates for the Magical Holiday Tour 2007 are already surfacing on orchestra websites.

The latest additions are Dec. 19-20 concerts in Minneapolis: Clay Aiken Christmas with the Minnesota Orchestra. This information is from the symphony's website:

As the first runner-up to FOX TV’s second American Idol, Clay Aiken wowed television audiences in 2003 with his sweet Southern charm and glorious voice. His debut album went to No. 1 on Billboard’s “Top 200” during its first week of release and went on to triple platinum status. . .

His first holiday recording, "Merry Christmas with Love," debuted at no. 1 on Billboard’s “Top Holiday Albums” chart. Now, joined by the Minnesota Orchestra, you’ll hear Christmas favorites like “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride” and “The Christmas Song.”

Advance ordering for these concerts is available for 2007-08 season subscribers beginning June 25. Tickets go on sale to the general public August 13.

The Magical Holiday Tour list currently includes these dates:

Nov. 26 Wichita, KS -- Central Christian Church

Nov. 30 Kalamazoo, MI -- James W. Miller Auditorium

Dec. 4 Wilkes-Barre, PA -- The F.M. Kirby Center

Dec. 7 Albany, NY -- The Palace Theater

Dec. 19 Minneapolis, MN -- Orchestra Hall

Dec. 20 Minneapolis, MN -- Orchestra Hall

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Librarian hat goes on...

Ahem...

I personally don't think Wikipedia rocks. At all. The way anyone can change anything in an article is just so, so wrong to this librarian. I mean this as no offense to treenuts who brought this over, but there is a long and, shall we say, varied history with this article.

Again, no offense, but Wikipedia is no authoritative resource.

Librarian hat off...

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Wow. I do apologize, IDY. I guess I know nothing about it then and perhaps I'd be better served going back to lurkdom. Thanks for that feedback though, now I know.

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treenuts, I'm posting this here too....

I don't want you to go back to lurkerdom, honestly. I've enjoyed getting to know you, and I'm sorry I came off as harsh.

It's just that wikipedia is a very sore subject for me.

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Clay's Wikipedia entry has recently been rewritten and the rewrite does rock. So treenuts, you're right about that. On the other hand, you have this: Pedophiles on Wikipedia, so ldyjocelyn, as you know, I agree with you in general. Treenuts, I think if you knew more about the history of Clay's bio on Wikipedia, it might help.

Good--I'm deleting those links now.

Edited by jmh123

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Thanks jmh for the info. It certainly does shed a different light on things!

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Courtesy of the CB:

Quote

Clay or Ruben? Who will be crowned?

The Herald-Sun

May 18, 2003 : 10:59 pm ET

DURHAM -- Clay Aiken’s grandmother still remembers when the little boy would sing while playing in the back yard at her home in Bahama.

"When he was little, he was real thoughtful," said Catherine Aiken, his maternal grandmother. "He never has liked sports. And he would come out here and his granddaddy would have a swing out there in the back yard. And he’d sit out there and swing and sing."

The grandmother estimates that her now 24-year-old grandson, who is on the cusp of winning the popular TV singing competition "American Idol," started singing by age 2. "Almost when he started talking, he started singing," she said in an interview at the house she shares with husband Alvia Aiken.

The walls behind their television, where they watch their grandson on the top-rated FOX TV show every week, are filled with family photos. Among them is a picture of Clayton -- the name his friends and family call him -- as a young boy, wearing his signature glasses and his chop-shop auburn hair.

Aiken’s grandmother is happy to see the clunky glasses replaced by contacts, though it has taken a while to get used to his new look.

"I like him without his glasses," she said. "I don’t particularly like his hair."

Aiken knows he has gone through a transformation on the TV show, one likened by some to a moth becoming a butterfly. The powerful voice was always present, bowling people over with its sheer crispness and intensity. But the "Clay" look -- the one that has young girls and middle-aged women thinking he’s a hottie and led to a stack of fan mail 5 feet high sitting at the "American Idol" offices waiting for his reply -- well, that took some work.

"I was kind of a khaki person," Aiken said of his pre-"Idol" duds. "Kind of khaki, and tacky, too. Boy-next-door, quiet with the glasses. [The "American Idol" stylist] said, ‘You need to get classier, more GQ. He helps pick out my clothes. ... I trust him at this point."

Because of the metamorphosis, Aiken understands and expects some of the cracks. And he has heard lots of them this year, especially from judge Simon Cowell, who repeatedly has said Aiken doesn’t look like an "American Idol" and then said a week or so later that that is what makes him so memorable. Aiken’s read just as many comments in news articles.

"It doesn’t really bother me that much. I came in with a sense of understanding that you got to be ready for criticism," he said during a teleconference late in the week leading up to the final showdown Tuesday between Ruben Studdard and himself.

"On top of that, the press is going to be mean. I’ve been called troll and a whole bunch of different things. ... I’ve gotten to the point where I’m going to go out and sing my song, have fun and expect Simon to say something mean. I think it is kind of sweet justice that I’m still here."

That sweet justice will be highlighted when he and Studdard square off Tuesday at 8 p.m. Viewers will choose the next idol by casting their votes from 9 p.m. until midnight, and the winner will be announced Wednesday night.

Though Aiken’s appearance has changed during his "American Idol" run, those close to him say the inner-Clay -- the humble young man who would help anyone -- has remained.

Nancy Cooke, one of Aiken’s professors of special education at UNC-Charlotte, where he attended before landing on "Idol," describes the person she sees on the television as the same student she has known for the past two years.

"The same qualities that I saw in him when I knew him prior [to "American Idol"] I see on ‘American Idol,’" she said in a phone interview from her office. "He is a very caring and genuine person. And he’s quick. He can think of things to say on the spot."

Humble is a word those around him often bring up. Cooke said he is so humble about his singing that she had no idea of his talent until he decided to go to the "Idol" auditions in Atlanta late last year.

"I did not know he could sing until last November," she said. "He wanted to take a couple of days off to go to Atlanta. I didn’t even know what ‘American Idol’ was. Then when he explained that it was singing, I didn’t know he could sing."

Luckily for America, Diane Bubel knew Aiken had some pipes. Aiken worked with Bubel’s 12-year-old autistic son, Matt, for two years during his time in Charlotte. It was Bubel who convinced Aiken to try out for "Idol."

"He also writes music," Bubel said during a phone interview from her house in Huntersville. "And he’d come in and say ‘Hey Diane, Emma (Bubel’s daughter), I wrote a song, what do you think about it?’ And then he’d bring in his laptop and play it for us. We’d say, ‘Why don’t you just sing it to us live?’"

When she brought up the idea of trying out for the show, Aiken was cautious, believing he did not have the right image.

But image isn’t all "American Idol" is about this year, Aiken has discovered, especially when he and pals Ruben Studdard and Kimberley Locke made it to the final three. All three have appearance deficiencies, from Aiken’s elfen look to Ruben’s doughboy physique to Locke’s not-quite-Shakira frame.

"It’s justice that the three of us were all there. I don’t think any of us would have been in the top 32 based on the way they were doing things last year," Aiken said. "It was a big image thing last year. They let a lot of people through on how they looked."

This year, "They went for talent over image. I think that’s a lot of the reason I’m here."

Aiken may seem quiet on stage, listening to the judges’ critiques and basking in the applause. But those close to him know he is not afraid to speak his mind, something that endeared him to Bubel, especially when her son Mike had problems in public.

"There were moments, and I like to call them ‘autism moments,’ when Mike would have a meltdown in public like he was a 2-year-old toddler, but he’s 12," she said. "When he melts down in public it’s really kind of an ugly scene. Clay was never at all bothered, worried, embarrassed, nothing. Sometimes he’d actually tell the people ‘You need to go about your business. You should understand that there’s something different about this child and it’s not helping that you’re standing there, staring at us.’"

Aiken said he was happy with his life before "Idol," when he planned on becoming a special-education teacher.

"I was very content, I’m really a person who likes stability," he said. "I like knowing what I’m going to be doing next. That’s probably why I never pursued music, because there are no guarantees when it comes to music. Where your next paycheck is going to be. I really appreciate the stability of working in special ed."

So Wednesday night, whether it’s Aiken’s name or Studdard’s that is announced as the "American Idol," Aiken said he’ll be OK with it.

"I don’t feel like I’m going up against Ruben. Ruben and I have been close for a long time. It’s not a competition about who is better anymore. We’re both here because we are good at what we do," he said.

Earlier he said he’d put everything in God’s hands. "I totally rely on Him to put me where He wants to put me. I never would have auditioned for something like this. He told me to do it. ... I never in my life would have put myself in the Top 10, much less the finals. If He wants me to win, I’ll win. If He wants me in second place, I’ll come in second place."

Aiken’s friend, Amanda Ward, 23, said the young man was a little dorky before his "Idol" experience.

The two met in high school, when they shared the same group of friends. She describes Aiken, whom she talks to several times a week, as "The life of every party."

"You never knew what color hair Clayton was going to have," Ward said of her closest friend in a phone interview. "He always dyed his hair. You never knew what he was going to wear. He had these bright green tennis shoes, just crazy clothes."

His clothing habits were nothing compared to his choice of companion, however.

"He had a pet goat that he would bring around," she said. "It was a miniature goat named Zoey. Most people would have pet dogs, I just remember he had this pet goat. He would bring it everywhere he went. He would take it to my house. He walked it on a leash, and it was the craziest thing in the world. It wasn’t that crazy coming from him because we expected things like that."

Suzanne Lyczkowsi, 23, knows Aiken as a fellow counselor at A.E. Finley YMCA in Raleigh who would do anything for the kids he worked with.

"He was definitely one of the favorite counselors," she said in a phone interview. "If he asked them to do anything, they would do it because they just loved him."

Aiken could even get the kids do something almost unheard of -- be nice to each other.

"Every summer, with his kids he would do a gender competition with his kids," she said. "Who could be nicer to each other. ... At the end of the week he would let the kindest group duct tape him to the wall.

gish

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nice look back article...lots of cool quotes.

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Since I am not a member at the OFC I brought this over courtesy of corabeth at the CH:

A poster at OFC is noting that Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul will contain 15 fan stories and 3 of them are about Clay. They also interviewed Clay who provided his own story. (Probably the overweight girl who told him in Atlanta how the Invisible video made her feel so good.)

Partial proceeds from the book are going to TBAF.

ETA ~ Oh great! I just finished reading a ton of "heavy discussion" regarding this very subject and am ETA "I am just the messenger so please don't shoot me".

Edited by treenuts

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Since I am not a member at the OFC I brought this over courtesy of corabeth at the CH:

A poster at OFC is noting that Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul will contain 15 fan stories and 3 of them are about Clay. They also interviewed Clay who provided his own story. (Probably the overweight girl who told him in Atlanta how the Invisible video made her feel so good.)

Partial proceeds from the book are going to TBAF.

ETA ~ Oh great! I just finished reading a ton of "heavy discussion" regarding this very subject and am ETA "I am just the messenger so please don't shoot me".

I have been reading the discussion on this on numerous boards. I will just High Five Couchie-Playbiller-43Dudleyvillas-tagalong-clazedover- and Cha Cha and leave it at that. They mirror my sentiments exactly.

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Okie dokie, all you ladies hot to trot to see this play/musical/whateveh, here's your BIG CHANCE! :)

Great News!!!!

The producers of Idol the Musical have offered the Clay Nation FREE tickets for the first four performances of the show. We have many pairs of tickets for the 8:15 PM shows for each of the following nights:

Thursday, July 5th

Friday, July 6th

Saturday, July 7th

Sunday, July 8th

Tickets will be first come, first serve. Send an email with your name and the person(s) you are attending with to cnn@claynationnews.com and we will send you instructions for picking up your tickets.

The team at Idol the Musical are very pleased with all the press they are getting and wanted to offer a chance for Clay fans to see the show free because "we're on the same wavelength."

The show is playing at the 45th Street Theater in New York City.

Please feel free to copy this to all boards and mailing lists. If you're part of a fangroup in or around the New York area, contact your groups.

Please only write for tickets if you are sure you will attend.

ps

I also posted this in the main thread as well.

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If I was in NYC I would go...sounds like fun.

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