'American Idol': Landing the Role of Season 13 Lawyer Is a lot Like Auditioning for the Show
Attorney Gary Gilbert describes the process of locking down legal representation for 31 semi-finalists.
Being the legal representative for 31 American Idol semifinalists is no walk in the park and neither is the process of campaigning for the gig. But with a new group of hopefuls come a slew of contracts -- eight to be exact -- all of which must be executed within hours of the judges declaring, “You made it to the next round.”
This year’s winner? Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, led by attorneys Gary Gilbert and Michael Rexford. Gilbert counts several alums as current clients, including season seven winner David Cook, season eight victor Kris Allen and season nine champ Lee DeWyze. The veteran lawyer was chosen for the role on three previous occasions, and seeing as the decision comes from the contestants themselves (and any parents representing minors), clearly something in his presentation resonates.
Gilbert revealed a bit about the process -- which is not unlike that of auditioning for the show -- in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
How many firms do you compete against for the legal representation gig?
Three law firms are chosen to make presentations to the semi-finalists. We each have about a half-an-hour and right after the presentation, they have the kids vote. An hour after that, you get a phone call from 19 Entertainment that either says, "Sorry" or "Congratulations!”
What are the sort of legal matters you're talking to them about?
There are eight contracts for various areas -- obviously the recording agreement, there's also the publishing agreement and so forth -- that each person has to sign so you can imagine the size of the task over a relatively short period of time. We got the gig on Monday, we had a meeting with all of them on Tuesday night, we negotiated on Wednesday and Thursday and they signed everything Friday night.
Is there something that they all ask?
Not really. The questions are all over the board … because one father might be 36 years old and then you might have another who’s 70 and has a 17-year-old kid. They're coming from very different places in terms of what their concerns are.
When you're standing in that room in front of all those wide-eyed contestants and parents, what emotions are you sensing?
The parents are usually scared for their kid -- [wondering] is their kid going to be taken care of? Should they really do this? Because if they do the show, they're going to be on hold for a while. It's big stakes. So some are scared, some are skeptical.
Do you find yourself playing therapist, too?
Maybe a little bit more than normal but I play therapist on a daily basis. I'm dealing with a veteran client right now [where] it's a lot of psychology involved. That’s nothing new. These people are a little more unsophisticated, that's the difference. They do an audition, they make it through and all of a sudden they're on a big platform … but the reality is a lot different from the fantasy. … Still, I'm energized because I think this season seems a lot better. It's much more fun to watch.
But the ratings aren't reflecting that…
Maybe. I don't know about that. If I understood television, I'd be a lot richer.