After months of stories about his allegedly heavy hand in directing his son's budding music career, "American Idol" finalist David Archuleta's father, Jeff Archuleta, has been banned from show rehearsals and from being backstage, according to The Associated Press.
Jeff Archuleta — who recently told Us Magazine that he is not the domineering stage dad people seem to think he is — was told last week by "Idol" producers that he can no longer join David, 17, as he prepares for the show. An unnamed source told the AP that Archuleta's intense backstage involvement with his son's song choices and arrangements had become a source of concern for the series.
The final straw appeared to be a lyric change Archuleta reportedly insisted on during Tuesday's performance show. Despite being warned against it, David's father is said to have insisted on changing some of the lyrics to Ben E. King's "Stand by Me," in order to slip in a verse from Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls," a move that cost the production additional song-clearance costs.
A spokesperson for "Idol" had no comment to questions about the ban at press time. After news of the ban broke, USA Today asked whether the ban could endanger David's position as the show's presumptive front-runner.
"Of all the major teenage contestants Idol has ever had, David appears to be the most heavily programmed and least spontaneous," said Charlie Toft, a writer for Film.com and a member of USA Today's "Idol" coach panel. "[H]is stereotypically showy way of singing suggests he and his father have been aiming at this goal for a long time."
Toft speculated that the move by "Idol" producers might be a warning shot to Jeff Archuleta that if his son wins the contest, David's career will be in the hands of music-business professionals. Rona Elliot, another panelist and former VH1 staffer, added that "sooner or later, David Archuleta will get the big picture and be royally ticked off at his father, and how his father's behavior not only alienated 'Idol' 's staff, but threatened his potential success."
In an interview with UsMagazine.com several weeks ago, Archuleta denied being a stage dad and said he acts as a "music consultant" to his son. Several of his friends defended him in a People magazine story that broke after the ban was announced.
"I get frustrated with this, because of course they never get the story the way it really is," said Richard Parkinson, who has been working with David Archuleta on arrangements for the past three years. "It is completely unfair that he be taking the brunt of this, if that's exactly what's going on. It's awful. ... It's really awful." Parkinson also denied that Jeff Archuleta is a stage dad, calling him "involved" and "intense."
David Archuleta's vocal coach, Dean Kaelin, told People that the ban was not as big a deal as people are making it out to be. "He is just not allowed to go into the arranging sessions with David," Kaelin explained. "It is more of a fairness issue than anything else, since the other two contestants don't have people on site to help with their arrangements. It is not a punishment."
Kaelin also said that the father "just happens to be there because David is a minor and is required by law to have a guardian with him. David's dad is just a caring, concerned parent that fortunately has some musical expertise, and some people fear that because of this, David receives an unfair advantage."
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