Patrick Ecclestein / FOX
Todrick Hall has so far survived Simon Cowell. But that's nothing compared to p.o.'d parents.
Hall, a member of American Idol's top 24 this season and a former Color Purple costar of Fantasia, is getting some heat for his role in a touring theater production called Oz, The Musical that promised local children some stage time as munchkins in exchange for a $50 fee.
Parents in Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Florida and Michigan reportedly forked over the money, only to be left empty-pocketed when the performances were abruptly canceled.
Greg Money, founder of Oz producer Magic Money Productions, tells E! News that Hall, who created and wrote the show, says that the 24-year-old performer objected to charging the kids for their participation.
Well, we'd certainly like to think that the spry, likable singer isn't a total d-bag...
"Todrick had no involvement in the money side of it at all," Money says. "The whole concept of having a performance fee was something he was opposed to doing, but we insisted it had to be done from a financial perspective."
He says that the money for the show simply ran out after various corporate sponsors pulled their financing, citing Magic Money's lack of experience with promotion and marketing.
They never expected to turn a profit, Money said, and so far he's been able to return some people's $50.
"First of all, I would want them to know that I can't begin to describe our regret and apologies," Money says. "Todrick and myself included, we did everything we could to save the show from being canceled."
But that's not good enough for plenty of parents, who have filled up the Oz the Musical fan page on Facebook with ticked-off comments and queries as to why DVDs of the performacnes that did go on have not yet arrived after they paid $35 apiece for them.
"I was wondering when the people of Minneapolis will be getting their refunds," one person wrote. "You have disappointed a bunch of kids. And you have lost the support of their parents on anything that you do in the future. Some of the younger kids were devastated."
Not that everyone is ticked off.
Jeanie Heyd of Dayton, Ohio, says that her three kids were in their local production in December and had a great time. And Hall has kept her informed about the DVD holdup, too.
"I think [Hall] is very talented but made some bad business decisions when his tour was getting started," Heyd tells E! News. "He did not charge our children and they had a fabulous time. He called me personally and explained the bad press as we have been having difficulty receiving the DVD of the show. I can only hope this publicity will give him the funds to do right by the people that are out some money. He got in over his head."
Venus Cannon, an employee at an Indianapolis dance studio that rented out space after being contacted by Oz producers, says she can't believe Hall had the audacity to try out for Idol after disappointing so many members of his potential fan base.
"I was like, 'That was nervy.' Then, watching him, he's just so full of himself. And every time he gets another step, I'm just so aggravated."
As if it matters what anyone thinks besides Simon Cowell, but still. We suspect that Todrick Hall didn't plan to face the nation for the first time quite like this.
If Hall wins Idol, Cannon says, he should personally refund all the families' money.
But first thing's first. Hall performs live for the first time along with the other top 11 guys on Wednesday.
Well, at least there are 23 other people to route for if you're burned out on Todrick Hall.