Vote stacking, Hillsong style
Conspiracy? Maybe. Controversial? Certainly!
Hillsong, a large and wealthy church in Sydney has members making up four of the final eight Australian Idol finalists.
Could they be voting their youth all the way to the final four?
What would it mean for Hillsong financially?
Even if none of them win the competition and fail to get recording deals the hit making machine of Hillsong with their multi-million dollar facilities could very easily produce and market solo albums and spread the net even wider in catching Idol's target audience. More souls for the kingdom. And also more cash for the Hillsong coffers.
Ten, Hillsong deny Australian Idol talk
Channel Ten has denied any affiliation with the pentecostal Hillsong Church following allegations the church has been vote-stacking talent show Australian Idol.
Of the eight remaining contestants, Matt Corby, Tarasai Bushe, Daniel Mifsud and Ben Mackenzie have been revealed as Hillsong members by a Channel Seven program.
A Ten spokesperson said the large quota of Hillsong finalists was a coincidence.
Hillsong responded to the allegations: "No Australian Idol contestant has received any mention at Hillsong Church this year, but we wish them all well."
Original source: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/story/0,23663,22534753-5000660,00.html
Australian Idol rocked by Hillsong vote-stacking claims
Australian Idol is under fire amid allegations of vote-stacking by the Hillsong Church.
Four of the remaining eight contestants — hot favourite Matt Corby, Zimbabwe-born Tarasai Bushe, Daniel Mifsud and Ben Mackenzie — were revealed as members of the church by the Seven Network.
The four all rank inside the top five in betting markets.
Channel Ten is hosing down the speculation, claiming the Hillsong-dominated finals are a mere coincidence.
Hillsong has drawn fire in the past for their political stance and use of donated funds for its ministries.
The Pentecostal organisation has also been criticised by other churches regarding its prosperity teachings.
Original source: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=302785
Australian Idol Tarisai Vushe embroiled in controversy
Zimbabwean born Australian Idol contestant Tarisai Vushe is embroiled in controversy after allegations that her church Sidney’s Hillsong attempted to hijack the show through their Christian contestants Ben Mckenzie, Tarisai Vushe and Daniel Mifsud, who are all members of the church. Idol producers have slammed the allegations initially made by Channel 7 in Australia.
Stories in the Australian media accused the evangelical church of stacking the votes on the show in favour of contestants from their church. Its alleged one of the producers of Australian Idol was so freaked out by the conspiracy he secretly called Channel 7 to blow open the scandal. Claims being made are that pastors are openly urging members of the congregation to vote in favour of Hillsong singers.
TT's executive producer Craig McPherson wrote to the to The Sunday Age, ‘Whether the struggling show was after publicity or not, we then made a series of checks and found (Hillsong and affiliates) were very much involved in the whole of Idol."
‘The idea that happy-clappers have been stacking the Idol vote in favour of Jesus-loving contestants has been around since Guy Sebastian won the first series. That Sebastian, a church-goer, was the most talented singer in that series is beside the point, ‘ the Age.com wrote in an article.
Producers say it’s not true to say 5 of the initial 9 finalists were members of the Hillsong Church. They same some of them are just Christians and not necessarily from Hillsong. Adding to the intrigue is that adverts sponsored by Hillsong are aired during Australian Idol.
Australian Idol is battling poor ratings that have been caused by infighting between contestants and several other negative stories. Eight singers remain including Ben Mckenzie, Natalie Gauci, Tarisai Vushe, Daniel Mifsud, Jacob Butler and Matt Corby.
Original source: http://www.nehandaradio.com/vushe091007.html
Ten wary of false idols... and rivals
Is an evangelical church stacking the Australian Idol vote? John Elder investigates.
ONE of Australian Idol's producers is so freaked out that the talent show is being taken over by the Hillsong church, that he secretly contacted Channel Seven's Today Tonight to blow the scandal wide open. This is the claim made by TT's executive producer Craig McPherson to The Sunday Age after days of God-bothering controversy.
"Whether the struggling show was after publicity or not," Mr McPherson wrote in an email, "we then made a series of checks and found (Hillsong and affiliates) were very much involved in the whole of Idol."
The idea that happy-clappers have been stacking the Idol vote in favour of Jesus-loving contestants has been around since Guy Sebastian won the first series. That Sebastian, a church-goer, was the most talented singer in that series is beside the point.
The point being: a Hillsong conspiracy of satanic proportions. Today Tonight ran two stories last week to prove the notion true. The show claimed that five of the nine finalists - Matt Corby, Tarisai Vushe, Daniel Mifsud, Ben McKenzie and Mark da Costa who was voted off last Monday - were Hillsong members. Not true. They might be Christians, but none is a Hillsong devotee - a fact that Idol's producers Fremantle Media claim to have told TT before the report went to air.
TT was unbowed. In its second report, headlined "Mind Control", the remaining four Christian contestants were said to belong to churches under the huge Assemblies of God umbrella - which boasts Hillsong founder Brian Houston as its national president.
Two former Hillsong members told how Hillsong pastors "pressured" the congregation to vote for Sebastian and Paulini in previous series. They made no mention of the current contestants or mind control.
Hillsong's media officer Maria Ieroianni told TT that Idol was never mentioned in church services - but she admitted to The Sunday Age that "some of our pastors would have known Guy (Sebastian)" and may have encouraged their spiritual underlings to give "the Fro" a go.
Says Ms Ieroianni: "But the whole idea that's what we're out to do (hijack the show) is ludicrous … Australian Idol is on at the same time that we're at church." She also denied that Hillsong were sponsors of the program despite Hillsong ads running during the series.
"It was two commercials out of a block of 100," she says. "We didn't know where and when they were running."
The response from media and culture analysts interviewed by The Sunday Age is … so what? John Schwartz, senior lecturer in media at Swinburne University, says Hillsong wouldn't be doing anything illegal or out of the ordinary if they were organising to support their own people or even actively promoting their participation. Country boy Shannon Noll was said to have done well because his hometown picked up the phone and voted.
Mr Schwartz says: "If the rules are you can ring up and vote as many times as you like, you can't even call it manipulation. Family and friends would be doing what Hillsong are being accused of."
He suggests Channel Seven is "being hypocritical when you look at the Logies. The whole thing is obviously rigged by people at the networks who get lots of copies of TV Week and cut out the coupons and manipulate the voting … Technically they're not doing anything illegal. It just shows how the voting system is crap."
However, Mr Schwartz cautions: "It's when a church tells their parishioners what to do and how to vote … when God says you have to hate the Labor Party, that's when it become contentious … It becomes a bullying situation."
Professor Gary Bouma, a Monash University sociologist who studies the management of religious diversity, laughed at Channel Seven's "mind control" claims.
"Even if a couple of pastors said it in a sermon to very large numbers of people, the idea that they march out and vote accordingly is completely insane," he says. "To have that kind of behavioural control you need a closed environment, a high level of surveillance and supervision, and a substantial lever of sanction. These are voluntary organisations. These groups have very little control over their members.
"Moral suasion sounds good but it's a pretty limited mode of behaviour-shaping of usual populations." That is, regular folk with jobs and extended family networks can't be turned into trained poodles. Professor Bouma also notes that if there was a Hillsong conspiracy, "you'd imagine there'd be email and text messaging evidence".
The longstanding implicit scariness of Hillsong, from a media perspective, is that they might take over the whole country. Professor Bouma thinks not.
"You might get a mob like Hillsong effectively voting on an issue … but all the evidence coming out of the religious revitalisation movement in America is they … have not been able to secure a significant voting bloc at an effective political level," he says.
Channel Seven publicist Susan Wood says: "In all my years I've never seen (the TV Week) coupon thing once."
Fremantle Media's Steve Murphy says: "We have a lot of contestants from a Christian upbringing … Church can be one of the few places where young people get to hone their skills. We welcome and encourage it."
Regarding TT's claims of an Idol producer claiming a Hillsong takeover: no comment.
Original source: http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/ten-wary-of-false-idols-8212-and-rivals/2007/10/06/1191091426731.html
How to win Australian Idol
Is the Hillsong congregation skewing Australian Idol results by voting for their own? Today Tonight raised the question on Wednesday, noting that four of the eight remaining finalists are Hillsong members, and one is a born-again Christian.
Whether the church is distorting the vote by legal means is not a new question. The Christian question has been hovering over Idol ever since Adelaide-boy and churchgoer Guy Sebastian took home the first Idol crown. Since then a pewful of worshippers has passed through the Idol finals process.
In some quarters "there are mutterings that Idol contestants connected to large congregations have an advantage in a competition that relies on a popular vote", wrote The Age's Katherine Kizilos last year, noting that 2006 finalist Dean Geyer worshipped at Adelaide's City Church while others -- Guy Mutton (Mutto), Jessica Mauboy and Lavina Williams -- all sang in church. So did finalists from other years: Paulini Curuenavuli and Lavina's sister, Emily.
Christian groups have downplayed the voting influence, saying it's all that training in church choirs that sets their flock in good stead. In other words, talent triumphs. Or perhaps it's all that training in Idol pizazz -- Hillsong Church is a place where "all the nasty, negative bits of Christianity have been removed and we’re all winning contestants in a cosmic version of Australian Idol," writes Pinky Beecroft in Manic Times.
Whatever you make of the Hillsong factor, Crikey understands that other denominations have also been pitching for their congregation's 15 minutes. We have word from the dancefloor that Dancing with the Stars winner Kate Ceberano was strongly supported in her ballroom bid by voters in the Scientology community. In fact, we hear there was an organised campaign in finals week by her "people" to rally her other people. Then again, runner-up Fifi Box had the not insignificant weight of Triple M's marketing department behind her.
Of course, it's all conjecture. Voting for reality shows like Australian Idol isn't broken down into religious electorates. In fact, in public view, it's not even broken down into vote numbers.
In 2003, when Idol judge Ian "Dicko" Dickson inadvertently told The SMH that 1.4 million votes had been clocked in a 24-hour voting period for one final show he broke with Ten policy.
How many votes does it take to push someone over the line? Equally hard to know, though it's likely to be in the thousands or tens of thousands. A number not out of reach of large congregations.
If you're looking for the recipe for Idol (or indeed reality TV) success find yourself in a small (but not tiny) community, the more parochial the better.
Bendigo girl and third Idol, Kate DeAraugo, was plagued with rumours that her family bought community votes to get her through. True or not, the small town factor no doubt played its part.
If you can belong to a large church and a medium-sized community -- where most people know your name -- even better. Oh, and some chops wouldn't hurt either.
Original source: http://www.crikey.com.au/Media-Arts-and-Sports/20071005-Is-God-rigging-Australian-Idol.html
Is 'people placement' the new PR?
So, the Hillsong Pentecostal church stands accused of 'people placement'; a tactic that involves seeding talented 'happy clappers' in the Australian Idol talent show to depict modern Christianity as cool and sexy, not freaky-geeky. What a bonza PR idea! Just think of all the Aussie organisations that could take inspiration from this cunning PR tactic.
We all know how brand names can prominently appear in movies or TV shows, to not-so-subtly create positive perceptions. (Think of recent Bond movies featuring Ford/Jaguar cars, Sony, Omega watches, Smirnoff and Heineken lager.) Surely it's only a matter of time before other organisations take a leaf out of the Hillsong's PR notebook? For instance...
Malcolm Turnbull could put in an appearance on 'Mythbusters' to have its resident geeks explode the notion that Gunns proposed pulp mill is environmentally dangerous.
SA Labour candidate Nicole Cornes could guest on 'Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader' to diffuse perceptions that she ain't the dumb blonde the media claims she is.
And on the pure PR front, the spin doctors at the beleaguered West Coast Eagles could guest on Channel Nine's 'Dirty Jobs'...nuff said?
Original source: http://blogs.theage.com.au/themediator/archives/2007/10/is_people_place.html
Churches accused of influencing 'Idol'
Controversy is brewing over claims Assemblies of God church groups are influencing the results on "Australian Idol."
The Daily Telegraph's "Australian Idol" blog has been a forum for the debate about the impact block voting has had on contestants Matt Corby, Tarisai Vushe, Ben McKenzie and Daniel Misfud -- all allegedly members of Assembly of God pentecostal church groups.
Non-member Jacob Butler was voted off the singing competition show Monday night.
The Australian current affairs show "Today Tonight" has aired a two-part series about the way AOG church Hillsong allegedly has been pressuring members to vote for finalists who are AOG church members.
The expose also dealt with allegations Hillsong has been stacking auditions with members, the British newspaper said.
"There's been a lot of talk this week about our top eight and what they chose to believe," Monday night's edition of "Australian Idol" host Andrew G said. "Using the latest investigative journalist research methods available to me, guys, can I have a show of hands. How many of you here are members of Hillsong?"
Although nobody raised a hand, critics argue the question was misleading because it mentioned only Hillsong and no other AOG churches.
Original source: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/121574.html
Who's responsible for the Idol Christian Camp?
Revelations that five of the seven contestants on Australian Idol are members of the fast growing ‘Assemblies of God’ Church community has whipped up all kinds of accusations.
It's alleged the Hillsong churches, that pioneered pop music dominated services and make millions from Christian music sales, have used these kids as a covert form of marketing.
But isn’t that making a big assumption? Is it possible the young people at the centre of this ‘conspiracy’ are running their own agenda?
Because it has to be asked: Do they rock up to church every weekend for the opportunity to perform to hundreds - or because they love Jesus?
One suspects, at least initially, it’s for the music. I suppose it’s a small price to pay to lip sync the religious dogma as well as the lyrics to the church's pop songs.
For five of them at least, the musical development they have enjoyed has turned into a ticket to the mainstream and a possible career in the music industry.
Or at the least a taste of fame, which for Generation Y is an end in itself.
And in a show where success is decided by audience voting, I’m sure it’s very comforting to know you have a potential voting base of 200,000 fellow ‘Assemblies of God’ practitioners Australia wide.
After all it’s now Australian Idol legend that this support propelled former choirboy Guy Sebastian to the crown of the very first Australian Idol.
So what if you have to participate in church services which are designed to assault the senses and elicit as great an emotional response as possible from the audience? So what if the music, smoke machines, video projections, nightclub style lights, and talking in tongues would make most Aussies roll their eyes?
So what if you have to virtually walk through a CD shop to get to a church service where you’ll be hectored by pastors to give donations to the church?
It’s a small price to pay. And in the end everybody wins, including Jesus.
Original source: http://livenews.com.au/Articles/2007/10/10/Whos_responsible_for_the_Idol_Christian_Camp