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Clay Aiken finds time for the kids, if not a TV show

Published April 14, 2005 SunTenial News

Tom Jicha

Clay Aiken hasn't watched a single episode of American Idol this season. He's not snubbing the show, even though the show might be snubbing him because he broke free of contractual ties to it. The extraordinary demands on his time just haven't afforded him the opportunity to watch, he says. Legal squabbles notwithstanding, Aiken says he still has warm feelings for the series that made him one of America's hottest performers. His debut album, Measure of a Man, sold 3 million copies; This Is the Night was the best-selling single of 2003. His concert appearances are a windfall for scalpers.

"American Idol is a very familial atmosphere," he said. "When you're with people 24/7, as we were, you get to love them or hate them. I got to love them." He has toured with original Idol Kelly Clarkson and talks to her regularly. He tries to keep in touch with Ruben Studdard, the soul singer to whom Aiken finished first runner-up in 2003. He wanted to watch the April 6 results show, which included a performance by 2004 Idol Fantasia Barrino, but says he couldn't escape other commitments to get to a TV set. No matter how jammed his schedule gets, he makes time to help others. He might not be able to clear an hour for TV but he is devoting a good part of this weekend to an appearance at the "Florida Voices for Change" benefit, Saturday night at the Broward Convention Center. Individual tickets are available for $200 and $275, with tables for 10 ranging as high as $25,000.

The pricing might be a little steep for "Clay-mates," his wildly supportive fan base, whose passion and loyalty mystifies him. "I love it but it's hard to understand why they care so much." His humility, even now that he has reached legitimate superstar status, is a big reason.

The South Florida chapter of "Clay-nation" can console itself that it will not be missing a full-blown concert. "Oh my goodness, no," Aiken said, displaying the same boyish politeness in a phone interview that he exhibited toward Randy, Paula and Simon. He expects to do "a substantially abbreviated program," perhaps no more than three songs.

Performing is the easy part. He's a natural at that. He's apprehensive about another part of the program. "I'll have to speak at some point," he said. "I'm working on that." Actually, he's scheduled to make two speeches. He's also penciled in for the keynote address at Today's Caregiver magazine's Fearless Caregiver Conference, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The beneficiary of the day's activities is the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, a charity he formed in 2003 with activist Diane Bubel, whose son Mike is autistic. The organization is dedicated to the integration into the mainstream of young people with developmental disabilities.

Aiken clearly has not forgotten where he comes from, another of his endearing traits. Helping children with special needs is probably what he would be doing, albeit on a less grand scale, if he had never been discovered. He has a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and was working with children with disabilities when he auditioned for American Idol. Aiken recalls teaching special-needs children at the YMCA in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C., and becoming disheartened when programs that could have been helpful were unavailable because of lack of funds. He says he used to tell himself, "I'd love to be able to figure a way to get the kids into those programs." The fund-raising that has become a major part of his professional life has helped to do just that.

The only downside to his global celebrity is that it has made him a target for the tabloids, which realize his face on the cover will sell papers. Not even someone with his wholesome image is immune to their creative smearing. He's adopted the savvy strategy of ignoring them, but one piece, which was sent to him, was especially hurtful, he said. "One of them wrote I was working with a children's choir last Christmas and I was rude to them. I've spent my entire life working with kids, trying to help them."

The only consolation, he said, is, "I think most people didn't believe this story because it was so preposterous." His actions, including Saturday's selfless volunteering of his limited time, speak much louder than those words.

Tom Jicha can be reached at tjicha@sun-sentinel.com.

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I couldn't agree more Spooky. Still the best voice this show has seen from any season.... hands down. IMO. :D

(Bo is the best I've ever seen, from any season... he's got it all... stage, voice, "it"... and that dang rock n roll.... *shivers" when it's done right... and Bo does it oh so right :D ... nothing can move me more... hee hee)

BUT... clay aiken... what a sweetie :D

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Clay Aiken Invites Girls to Oprah Show

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Spanish class at Lincoln East High School became a music lesson when Clay Aiken showed up to invite a pair of sisters to "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Twin seniors Britney and Bethany Wekesser boarded "The Oprah Winfrey Wildest Dreams" bus Monday as their classmates watched and a camera crew filmed the event for an upcoming show.

Several classes went outside to see the bus pull up, thinking Winfrey would be inside. Aiken, an "American Idol" runner-up, stepped out instead, asking the girls to come to Chicago with him for the taping of Winfrey's show. "They started jumping up and down. One of them, I think it was Bethany, lost her shoes. They were screaming," said classmate Jetz Jacobson. Someone at the school nominated the sisters for the show, Jacobson said.

Aiken sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" for the students. Karen Wekesser, the twins' mother, said her daughters are fans of both Winfrey and Aiken. They are to go to Chicago next week, Wekesser said.

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  • 3 months later...

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Clay Aiken Leaves L.A. for Raleigh

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Clay Aiken

Crooner Clay Aiken is selling his Los Angeles-area home to return to his North Carolina hometown. The Raleigh native declined to tell The News & Observer of Raleigh exactly where he's building his new home. "Whether this ride lasts for one year or 10 years, I want to have a home base," said Aiken, 26.

The pop star who soared to fame as a runner-up on the TV series "American Idol" in 2003 has rarely been at the Mediterranean-style, six-bedroom home he bought new last fall for $2.3 million, The Los Angeles Times reported. Aiken listed the house in March for $2.5 million and expects to close escrow next month.

The 7,800-square-foot home was new when the singer bought it and rests on more than an acre in a private, rural area of the San Fernando Valley that is zoned to allow horses, the Times said. The house has 6 1/2 bathrooms, a pool, a spa, a gazebo and a sports court.

Aiken's mother, Faye Parker, decorated his California home with North Carolina furniture. The work won't go to waste despite the move, he said. "All the stuff, curtains, fabrics and whatever else is coming, too," Aiken said.

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  • 2 months later...

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Clay Aiken Preps for New Tour

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Clay Aiken points out that the house

number featured on the set of his new

show is his 'Idol' audition number.

Today might be Halloween, but Clay Aiken is already getting into the Christmas spirit, as he prepares for his second holiday tour. Following the success of last year's tour in support of the festive album, "Merry Christmas With Love," Clay said "we immediately began saying, let's do it again, let's do it again, and make it bigger and better."

During a rehearsal break, Clay remarked, "I called my manager up and said, 'I've got this great idea. I want to get some actors next year and I want to do a story to go along with it." Part concert, part play, the former 'Idol' finalist explains that the music featured in the show "is really a soundtrack" to the action taking place on stage. "It all kind of melds together."

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Clay Aiken

But Clay isn't just singing for his supper. He's also utilizing his teaching background to tutor Gregory Ellis, one of the young boys in the production. "I'm having so much fun with it," says Clay, who taught in his native North Carolina before becoming a pop sensation. "It gives me an opportunity to do what I used to do."

And for all the 'Clay-mates' who want to get up close to the cute crooner, the tour kicks off November 2 in Vancouver and "then we head right on through till Christmas," says the singer. "The last show before Christmas is in my hometown of Raleigh. We'll come back after Christmas and do four shows in Florida. So it's 40 dates in 38 cities. It's a big undertaking."

For more with Clay, watch "The Insider."

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  • 10 months later...

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'Idol' Clay Aiken Hears Washington Calling

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Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken has been named to serve on the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, the White House released in a statement. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Aiken gained fame as a runner-up on "American Idol" and once worked as a YMCA counselor.

The committee was originally founded as the President's Panel on Mental Retardation by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Members advise the president on issues pertaining to those with mental disabilities.

A White House press release said President Bush intends to make the appointment official at some point in the near future. The singer's new album, "A Thousand Different Ways," hits stores on September 19.

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  • 2 weeks later...

He is very amusing when he is relaxed and not on the defense. I especially enjoy his interaction with Jimmy Kimmel. Their friendship makes for a very entertaining segment. Clay "wants to be a talk show host like Jimmy when he grows up". I would watch :)

FYI, Clay's mom, Faye, is in NY this weekend filming on segment on Martha Stewart. I think it will air next week but am unsure.

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Clay, his mom and grandmother were in NY to film a cooking segment with Martha Stewart which will air tomorrow, Oct 6. Grandma Aiken cooked a casserole (I beleive it was a pineapple someting) with Martha and was quite funny from what I was told. Clay is in the segment but the focus is on grandma's cooking. Faye opted not to appear but to let mama have the spotlight.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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Clay Aiken Debuts on 'Days of Our Lives'

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Clay Aiken

BURBANK, California -- Singing sensation Clay Aiken will guest star on NBC's hit daytime drama, "Days of Our Lives" on Friday, December 22 (1 p.m. in most markets). Aiken will perform the song, "Everything I Have," from his new album and his version of "O, Holy Night " will also be featured on the show.

In this special holiday episode, Aiken gives a private concert at Salem's local club, Dune for Patch, played by Stephen Nichols and Kayla, portrayed by Mary Beth Evans, after the couple offer to volunteer to help Aiken catch a ride to the airport when his car gets stranded.

Aiken's recent release, "A Thousand Different Ways," offers fans 10 cover versions of love songs spanning the last three decades, as well as four brand-new songs including "Everything I Have." In 2003, Aiken's debut album, "Measure of a Man," went triple platinum.

Aiken's follow-up holiday release, "Merry Christmas with Love," was the best-selling holiday album of 2004. He shot to stardom on the hit television series, "American Idol" and continues to amaze audiences and his legions of devoted fans with his powerful voice.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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Ripa Rips Clay and Rosie Responds

by Gina Serpe

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Kelly Ripa ignites feud with Clay Aiken over co-hosting duties

LOS ANGELES, California -- Brooke vs. Tom? Settled. O.J. vs. the truth? Irrelevant. Kelly vs. Clay . . . vs. Rosie? Now, there's a feud we can get behind. What began with brief yet cutting accusations of ungentlemanly behavior and disrespect steamrolled into allegations of homophobia Tuesday morning on "The View."

It all began when Rosie O'Donnell blasted Kelly Ripa for making what O'Donnell deemed a homophobic remark to Ripa's guest cohost, Clay Aiken, last week. This is what happens when Regis takes a day off. On Friday, November 17, the "American Idol" runner-up sat in for Philbin on "Live with Regis and Kelly."

While Aiken appeared quite garrulous, if not a little snarky, during the show's opening coffee talk segment

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Does anyone know where we can view a clip of the Kelly and Clay episode?

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thank you! :)

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Too bad we didn't see the whole clip. I refrain from making a judgement because we don't know what kind of things Kelly was gushing about before.

I do think her excuse about germaphobia was lame. Something made up to excuse an insult to a guest of the show. I think she could have played it off much better and not gotten into this mess.

Clay is not creepy and I'm sure he was just trying to get a word in edgewise over her constant babbling. She's way to self centered for my tastes.

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You still don't ever put your hands on someone's face... I would have slapped him... I don't even let my hubby or kids do that to me

Furthermore It's not Clay and Kelly... It's Regis and Kelly.. as far as I'm concerned he was there to get a little publicity if she didn't let him get a word in edgewise well tough tacks sweetheart its her show not yours

That is just my opinion

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Didn't I read that Clay was a guest host?

So he made an error in judgement. Like I said, she could have handled it better. She's supposed to be the pro and ad lib on cue. That she talks like a magpie is a given.

Thank god I'm not so germaphobic that I can't have someone touch my face. I think there are more airborne germs and pollutants floating around than on our hands. A large congested area like an airport, mall or even a grocery store is full of people and germs. And let's not talk about how many times we all handle money every day. Where has that been?

And your family not touching your face? I find that totally disheartening and sad. Hopefully, you know where their hands have been.

And if I post, it is my opinion - so I don't have to keep reminding you.

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Well, I'm more like Switzerland on this issue because I saw both programs, "Live with Regis and Kelly" and "The View" in their entirety when both events occurred live. I see fault and no-fault on all three sides. I also see a bit of hypocrisy in some of the finger-pointing or hand-over-mouth covering.

First, if you saw the entire 'Live' you would see how Kelly dominated the entire show even after Clay made a few attempts to hint he would like to contribute more. He did not cover her mouth in any other manner but humorous and to try to demonstrate physically what Kelly wasn't getting by his several tries at asking a question or contributing.

Second, me thinks Kelly doth protest too much. They have tape of her doing the very same thing to Regis on a couple of occasions. So, if covering someone's mouth during an interview is a no-no, it should also be a no-no for her as well. As for germs, how many times have we seen Kelly pulling out splinters out of Regis or placing eye drops or other germ passing activities?

I truly enjoy Kelly Ripa but somehow Clay trying to mimic the same schtick as Regis and Kelly didn't fly well. Clay should have been more Clay and less like Regis. Regis is the only one who can pull off the Regis personna. Others who attempt it may come off as hostile instead of funny. And, Kelly should have let her co-host participate more and not be hypocritical on the germ issue.

As for my dear Rosie, who (you guessed it) I adore, this is one of the first times I must disagree with her assessment of this being a homophobic incident. However, I come from the stance of a straight woman so my view of the incident might have its own sort of bias.

In the end, all three personalities made nice. Clay sent Kelly flowers and an apology note which Kelly accepted. Rosie also called Kelly directly after "The View" and made peace . . . talk show host to talk show host. The next phone call from Rosie went to Clay who thanked her for supporting him but they both agreed to let this non-issue die down.

And, to prove Clay has a sense of humor about himself . . . the greatest and comical way of downgrading the incident was to poke fun at himself. During the "2006 American Music Awards" ceremony, he presented with Tori Spelling and they did a sight gag during their introduction that included Spelling covering Aiken's mouth to stop him from speaking. Nice, light way to defuse the 'controversy.'

Plus, Barbara Walters put it to bed the next day by making a small disclaimer at the beginning of "The View's" Hot Topics segment and hopefully it'll be peaceful in the morning talk show circuit once more. It'll be interesting to see if Clay Aiken ever co-hosts on 'Live' again. I guess that will be the true Litmus test of bygones being bygones.

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