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Syesha Mercado

'Book of Mormon' Star

Sued for Sinning Against Manager

3/23/2014 12:57 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

03-21-14-Syesha-Mercado-tmzFormer "American Idol" star Syesha Mercado dropped her manager like a bad habit as soon she landed a big gig doing "The Book of Mormon" ... allegedly stiffing him out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mercado -- who finished third on Season 7 -- is being sued by former manager Fred Crawford, who picked her up as a client not too long after her stint on "Idol."

Crawford claims Mercado agreed to fork over 20% of whatever she made in the entertainment industry.  Crawford says he helped her land the "Book of Mormon" deal ... for which she earned $40,000 a month.

But Crawford claims right after the ink dried Mercado cut off all communication and never paid him a cent. He's suing for his "Mormon" cut  -- roughly $300,000. 

Crawford has a big problem ... the deal, he says, was never committed to writing.

Calls to Mercado's rep were not returned, but we're guessing she tells a very different story.

Jason Aldean

I'm Banging The Girl

Who Broke Up My Marriage

3/17/2014 12:26 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Jason Aldean is dating the "American Idol" alum who broke up his marriage -- and we're told they've been hooking up ever since he filed for divorce.

Brittany Kerr -- the A.I. floozie -- was photographed backstage in the wings of Aldean's concert Friday night ... and now we're told it's official ... they're a couple.

It's pretty stunning ... in September, 2012, the two of them were photographed making out at a bar on the Sunset Strip -- it was so obvious they could be seen from the street.

Aldean said at the time it was a one time deal -- a drunken mistake -- and he took a taxi home alone.

Aldean filed for divorce last May.

So now the question ... did they ever really stop seeing each other?  No one is saying, but we do know Kerr was in the crowd at his show on January 10th in Austin.

She didn't make it far on "Idol" but she's clearing home base with Aldean.


'American Idol'

Show Will Lose Money This Year

2/24/2014 6:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

0223_seacrest_lopez_compositeIt's an enormous sea change ... one of the most successful shows in the history of TV -- a show that has made BILLIONS of dollars in profits -- will actually LOSE money this year  ... multiple sources connected with the show tell TMZ.

The reasons for "American Idol" going into the red for the first time all have to do with the bottom line.  The show pays a fortune to the stars -- we're told Jennifer Lopez gets north of $15 Mil and Ryan Seacrest gets around that amount as well.  They spent between $5 and $7 million on a new set this year.  They are also still paying the 2 executive producers they fired after last season.

In addition we're told the show will spend at least $5 million on viewer phone calls.

And ... the ratings are down 26% from last season -- and that translates into advertising dollars.  Some of the ad losses can be deferred until next season ... but they are losses nonetheless.

For years "Idol" scored hundreds of millions of dollars in raw profits in a single season.

That said ... we're told the show almost certainly will NOT be cancelled after this season.  Sources say it will be back next year, in no small part because FOX cancelled "X Factor" and there would be way too many holes in its primetime schedule if both shows went away. 

Now perspective ... "American Idol" is one of the most successful shows ever on television.  Almost no shows make it to season 13 and the ratings for the show's run have been unbelievable.

FOX had no comment.

Clay Aiken

I Can Get Dirty Too

On the Campaign Trail

2/6/2014 12:02 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Clay Aiken ain't smiling and singing anymore ... instead the former 'Idol' runner-up is coming out swinging in a run for Congress.

Clay Aiken ... tough guy? Politics defnitely change people.


Failed 'Idol' Contestant

Arrested for Public Masturbation

... In Slushy Truck

1/17/2014 7:50 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

If you thought this guy was weird on Wednesday night's "American Idol" premiere, just wait til you get a load of his rap sheet -- and we literally mean load --  the guy was convicted in 2010 after allegedly jerking it in a frozen lemonade truck ... while parked in front of a group of kids.

Sam Atherton had just finished serving frozen lemonade to a group of churchgoers and their kids when he was popped for "open and gross lewdness."

An eyewitness told police he saw Atherton "bobbing his head up and down ... with an intense look on his face" while vigorously moving his arm and shoulder. The witness claims when he approached Atherton to confront him, the guy's pants were around his ankles.

Atherton's excuse was classic ... he said he was just scratching his foot because of a severe fungus.

Atherton was convicted on two counts of lewdness and sentenced to two years probation.

Just when you thought nothing could be worse than his audition.

Seacrest's New Chick

Bikini Modeling Debut


12/10/2013 11:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Ryan Seacrest
's new lady Shayna Taylor nearly FROZE TO DEATH during her first big modeling shoot yesterday -- stripping down to a tiny bikini on an L.A. beach in the middle of the winter -- but even though it was cold outside, the photo shoot was hot as hell.

As we reported, the 23-year-old smokeshow just signed with a huge modeling agency thanks to the publicity she's gotten from allegedly dating the "American Idol" host.

Check the video ... she's a natch ... but she still needs a little coaching from the photographer.

FYI, it was roughly 45 degrees in L.A. yesterday by the water ... which is like -76 degrees for Angelenos.

Ryan Seacrest

Moving On with

New Blonde

12/3/2013 10:04 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Ryan Seacrest
is more predictable than crap in a diaper -- the "American Idol" host has a new lady in his sights after dumping Julianne Hough ... and shocker, she's also a hot blonde.

The girl's name is Shayna Taylor ... she's 23 ... annnnd that's pretty much it.

According to our sources, Shayna runs in one of those hot blonde Hollywood crowds filled with Instagram models who pretty much party exclusively at rich people's houses. And that's how Seacrest met her roughly a year ago.

It's unclear if Ryan and Shayna are boyfriend and girlfriend ... or just "close" friends.

Fun fact: Shayna's the same girl who was pictured smooching with Terrence Howard last year in St. Barts.


It's unclear exactly how long they've been seeing each other ... but Seacrest has been a free man since March, when he ended things with Julianne.

So now we gotta ask ...


Mariah Carey


It Was Like Working In Hell!!!

11/14/2013 12:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

Mariah Carey says she HATED being a judge on "American Idol" -- claiming everyday it was like "working in hell with Satan."

Carey never mentioned Nicki Minaj by name during the explosive interview with Hot 97 in NYC yesterday ... but it's clear who she was talking about since their feud was no secret.

Carey -- who made $18 mil for her 1st season on the show -- says she was duped by producers who told her she was going to sit on a 3-person panel ... and when they added Minaj as a 4th judge, things quickly spiraled out of control.

"It was like hell ... going to work every day in hell with Satan," Carey said.

We broke the story ... Minaj and Carey fought right from the start -- and in their most famous spat, the rapper told producers, "I'm not f**kin' putting up with her f**kin' highness over there."

So, guess no Christmas duet??


Miley Cyrus

New Clue in Weed Mystery

... Courtesy of Adam Lambert

11/4/2013 6:37 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Only Adam Lambert really knows for sure if that lit cigar he passed Miley Cyrus at his Halloween party contained the devil's weed ... and over the weekend, he dropped a pretty big clue.

Lambert was at LAX when a photog asked point-blank about the photo TMZ posted, showing the former "Idol" superstar handing Miley something that looks like (and probably was) a big, fat blunt.

You gotta see Lambert masterfully bob, weave and deflect when asked about it -- but then came the big moment ... when the photog said, "If it was a joint, say nothing."

The reaction pretty much says it all.  

Now excuse us ... we have some Funyuns to eat.


Adam Lambert to Miley

Here's a Toke-In of My Appreciation

11/2/2013 1:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Adam Lambert lit up the joint earlier this week ... and then handed it to Miley Cyrus

TMZ obtained this photo -- taken at Bootsy Bellows nightclub in West Hollywood -- showing a costumed Adam and Miley passing what sure appears to be a blunt.

Miley -- who came as Lil' Kim -- is no stranger to puffin' trees, but Adam Lambert ... who knew?

In case you're wondering if the club tolerates it, as Simon Cowell would say, Welcome to Hollywood.

Scooter Braun

I'm So Over 'Idol'

8/29/2013 12:50 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Scooter Braun is like several million other TV viewers -- he's over "American Idol."

We've learned Justin Bieber's manager will not join the show as a judge, and the reason is simple.

A source very close to Scooter puts it this way:  "The only reason to do it at this point is vanity and he doesn't do things for vanity.  Without the right to manage the acts, it makes no business sense for him and ultimately he's a business guy."

Jennifer Lopez and several producers made a play for Scooter, but we're told the stumbling block has been that he wants his hooks in the careers of the contestants and "A.I." can't give him that because of Simon Fuller's deal -- that's his domain.

So Scooter moves on.  We've also learned he thinks "A.I." is crazy not to sign Dr. Luke.

'American Idol'

Wants Scooter to Finger

Next Kelly Clarkson

8/22/2013 10:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Some of the honchos at "American Idol" -- and Jennifer Lopez -- have been aggressively courting super-manager Scooter Braun because their research shows people don't care about the judges -- they want to watch the birth of the next big star.

Sources connected with the show tell us ... "A.I." execs believe the show has lost its way by sinking their fortunes on the judges.  The research is clear -- viewers want to see the next Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood emerge from the pack.

The execs believe there is no one in music better to accomplish that task than Scooter Braun, who built careers for Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Wanted, and many others.  BTW, they're right.  Braun's a genius.

But here's the rub ... Sources very close to Scooter tell TMZ ... he's flattered but has lots of doubts about doing the show.  One of the biggest -- he's saying he likes being able "to go to the grocery store under the radar."

We're told the only way Scooter would even consider doing the show is if he could have management control of any contestant he chooses -- even the ones who don't win.

The likelihood he'd take the gig -- remote, but still possible.

Jennifer Lopez

Smart is Dumb

Reveals 'A.I.' Return

8/17/2013 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

Jennifer Lopez
must sure think Casper Smart is cute, because upstairs there's a vacancy -- he just ruined her big announcement that she's returning to "American Idol."

Smart was promoting his new show -- yes, anyone can -- when he was asked if his GF was coming back to the struggling show.  He dug deep and said, "Yes."

Apparently Casper thought the cat was already out of the bag.

So JLo will join Keith Urban.  No word on other potential saviors.

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