Sunday, February 22, 2004

How Freaky!

The Press Speaks:
Idol Fans Hung Up on Hung
Fri Feb 20, 4:45 PM ET E! Online


By Joal Ryan

William Hung is forever. For however long that lasts these days.

"I think his 15 [minutes] can be 24," cable TV executive Marc Juris said.

Betting that Hung, this season's biggest American Idol loser, has a few more media cycles in him, Juris' Fuse network joined with Koch Entertainment this week to offer the 20-year-old college student a $25,000 recording-slash-music video contract.

If all goes according to plan, Hung will sign by next week; the album--more like a five- or six-song mini-album--will be on sale three weeks after that.

Said Juris: "The kid is a true phenomenon."

The Fuse president's hype is also the truth. In the past month, Hung has been parodied by Jimmy Fallon on Saturday Night Live, invited to croon on Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show and anointed a halftime performer at his hometown University of California, Berkeley campus.

An online fan club sports nearly 600 members. An online petition calling on American Idol producers to return him to the competition boasts more than 85,000 virtual signatures. A March 1 Idol special, "Uncut, Uncensored and Untalented," promotes itself in the very image of the dancing, singing Hung (although Fox won't yet say what his involvement in the show may or may not be).

"Obviously, all you need to do [to get famous] is a really bad version of 'She Bangs,'" said Melissa De La Cruz, coauthor of the 2003 self-explanatory tome How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less.

Hung, of course, didn't need two weeks to become a media star. He barely needed two minutes.

As featured on the Jan. 27 Idol, the Hong Kong-born Hung "performed," if you'll pardon the expression, Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" during the show's open-call audition round in San Francisco.

"You can't sing. You can't dance. So what do you want me to say?" judge Simon Cowell asked--once he'd stopped rolling his eyes.

To Hung's ever-growing legion of supporters, Cowell's assessment was beside the point.

He was "so sweet and humble about the whole thing that he just touched a nerve with people who had no professional training, but just did their best and had no regrets," says Juris. (The statement consciously echoes Hung's now-immortal Idol words: "I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all.")

Perky Idol judge Paula Abdul (news) liked Hung's attitude. So did Rebecca Daley and Andrea Michaelian, who identify themselves as the 15-year-old Webmasters of the William Hung Fan Club (williamhung.reallyrules.com/).

"You don't have to have incredible vocal skills to be an entertainer, you just have to make people smile, laugh, cry...and that's just what he did," Daley and Michaelian say in an email interview. (They said they were too busy with homework to talk on the phone.)

Jasper Speaks:

HUH? This has got to be one of the strangest things I have ever heard. My wife Kendra will tell you that I am a huge American Idol fan. I don't know what it is but there is something about the fresh young faced competition and my ability to influence the winner that really attracts me to this program. It is my favorite show. Last year I nearly drove my fingers to be bloody nubs voting for Kimberley Locke as my personal favorite idol. (I still think she should have won by the way). So I must say that I do love this show.

One of the best things about it is the first few episodes where we get to see the really bad people who try out. There were almost too many days (six I think) of watching mostly bad audition after bad audition this season. There was "Screech Girl" who was the one that made me laugh the hardest. She did a rousing scat rendition of "Route 66". A classic television moment. There were long lines of just simply bad singers who made you shake your head and wonder why their mothers didn't love them enough to stop them from making a fool of themselves on national television.

There was Wiiliam Huang. I laughed at him. He was bad. He was not Ricky Martin. He was plain bad. As you have heard the press speak above, he still started a phenomenon of sorts. I think this speaks to the true downfall of America. I have no doubt that Sir William is not a good hearted young man. I am sure he has dreams and aspirations. I wish him all the best in life.

BUT A RECORDING CONTRACT??? WHAT THE HECK??? What happened to the standard of excellence we usually hold artist to? What about the AI contestants of the present and past who had decent voices but fell from the top two and have been heard little from since. (Ah, Tamyra Grey we hardly knew ye!) Have we really sunk to this level? No talent is okay? Painfully lacking ability will still get you places as long as you appear to be "nice"?

I have decided that I have got to get in on some of this frenzy. I am going to get a fake ID. Not one like I had when I was 17 that added eight years to my age, but one that does the opposite. I want to be 22 again! That way I can go to next season's Idol auditions. I will belt out my best version of Enrique Iglesias' HERO. I will sing proud and strong and maybe even throw in some signature Jasper moves to wow the judges with my dancing abilities. When I am done I will be torn. What do I want them to say, "you're going to Hollywood?" No thanks. Then I still only have a 1 in 200 chance of fulfilling my career goals. I will hope for a hearty, "Dawg, you know Dawg, I don't thik I can give you any props for that joint" from Randy. I want to hear a, "Well you look good in green. I love that shirt," from Paula. I LONG for a "I must say that performance was abysmal. My ears are bleeding. You have absolutely no talent at all," from Simon.

You see that will be the very moment when I look deep into the camera. I will let a single tear roll down my right cheek (that's my good side you know). Then I will quietly say, "Thank you so much for you constructive criticism. I know I have given this my all. You were very kind to hear me today. By the way I only have 21 hours of college music credits. I realize those were a waste and I learned nothing. I just thought you might like to know."

Then I will walk proudly out and hug Ryan Seacrest. Heck, I might even tousle his hair a bit (who would notice?). Then I will calmly go home and wait. I will sit by the phone patiently waiting for the calls and offers to come in as soon as my audition airs. You see I am a nice guy. People say that I am a good person with a great heart. That seems to be all it takes to be successful in the entertainment industry. Who would have thought that hard work and knowing people would all pale in comparison to just being sweet and a little bit on the dorky side?

I would urge you to email me and request a personal autograph now. I want to get a head start on the rush. I am sure that you will get thousands for it on eBay right after my audition airs.

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