×

Some Clay Aiken Donors Feel ‘Duped’ After Announcement of Esquire ‘Docu-series’

Some Los Angeles donors who attended a Sept. 30 fundraiser for Clay Aiken in Los Angeles feel “duped” after the announcement, just hours after he lost his race for a North Carolina congressional seat, that Esquire Network had been producing a “docu-series” about his campaign.

According to Karen Ocamb of FrontiersLA, donors are asking that footage of the event not be included in the documentary. Donors have complained that a film crew following Aiken around that night asked attendees to sign release forms, but told them that it was for a BBC documentary that would not air in the U.S.

The organizer of the Aiken fundraiser, actor-producer Steven Tyler,  sent a letter to Aiken in which he wrote, “I am sorry for the loss on your bid for Congress, but apparently you had yourself covered with a reality TV show deal the entire time, just in case you didn’t win.  I cannot speak for the NC Voters or contributors, but I can speak for myself and many of your Los Angeles supporters when I say we feel duped, taken advantage of and lied to.”

The Esquire Network announced the unnamed project as a four-hour documentary series from UK documentary production company Lightbox, but they have not called it a reality series. The project is being filmed by Simon Chinn, who won an Oscar for “Searching for Sugar Man,” and Jonathan Chinn, an Emmy winner whose credits include “30 Days” and “American High” through their Lightbox production company. The project is described as “an intimate look at the hope of victory and, ultimately, the disappointment of defeat.” The filmmakers followed Aiken since the announcement of his candidacy in February.

But some donors also have questioned Aiken’s motivations.

In his letter, posted in Ocamb’s story, Tyler wrote that “had the LA donors known you would personally benefit from their donations and appearance at the event — they would not have donated to your campaign.”

According to a source close to the production, Aiken was not paid nor was anyone else who was filmed during the documentary.

Aiken was well received by the crowd, and according to Ocamb, who was there, some of the attendees were impressed enough to write additional checks as they were leaving. The fundraiser was held at the home of Michael Corbett of “Extra.”

 

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Mass Appeal and Universal Launch Hip-Hop

    Nas, Mass Appeal and Universal Music Launch Hip-Hop Label in India, Sign Divine

    Mass Appeal and Universal Music Group today announced the launch of Mass Appeal India – a new label dedicated to amplifying India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture on a global scale. The new label’s operations will be based Universal Music India’s headquarters in Mumbai and will function as a multi-channel partnership between the two companies. According to the announcement, Mass Appeal India will sign and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, center, arrives to court

    Weinstein's Attorneys Seek to Move Trial to Long Island or Albany

    Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys want his rape trial moved to Long Island or Albany, citing the “circus-like atmosphere” surrounding the courthouse in Manhattan. Weinstein is set to go on trial on Sept. 9 on five charges of rape and sexual assault. The disgraced producer faces a potential life term if convicted. In a motion to the [...]

  • AtmosphereThe Current State of Play in

    New York’s PlayStation Theater to Close (EXCLUSIVE)

    New York’s PlayStation Theater, a 2,100-capacity venue located in Times Square and operated by Bowery Presents, will close at the end of 2019, a source close to the situation tells Variety. The venue will close with a New Year’s series of shows from the Disco Biscuits. The theater, which is located two stories beneath the [...]

  • Courtesy of Earwolf

    How Lauren Lapkus Tossed the Script and Created a Podcasting Hit

    Lauren Lapkus has tossed the script on what makes most podcasts a hit. At a time when many of the most downloaded shows are true crime investigations or celebrity interviews, she’s doing something entirely different on each episode of “With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus.” Each hour-long installment is a free-wheeling, completely improvised ride. One show [...]

  • WWE NXT

    WWE's 'NXT' Moves to USA Network as Wrestling Competition Heats Up

    WWE has struck a deal to move its “NXT” franchise focusing on rising stars to USA Network starting next month. “NXT” will shift to USA from the WWE Network subscription streaming service as of Sept. 18. The deal comes as USA is about to lose WWE’s “SmackDown” showcase to Fox starting in October. USA is [...]

  • Shazam

    Apple Music Launches 'Shazam Discovery' Chart, Focused on New Artists

    Apple Music today launched the “Shazam Discovery Top 50,” a weekly, global ranking of 50 artists that it describes as “on the move and trending” — in other words, new and emerging artists. While the company wouldn’t say much specifically about how the chart is tabulated, it uses “Shazam’s proprietary algorithms [to offer] a unique predictive view [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content