Who is Drake Milligan?
Born in Mansfield, Texas, in June 1998, Drake Milligan took the US by storm with his audition on “America’s Got Talent” (AGT), and his subsequent performances, due to his talent and resemblance to Elvis Presley.
Inspired by his father’s love for country music, and an Elvis impersonator he saw perform in a local restaurant, Drake impersonated the “King of Rock & Roll” himself before answering a casting call to play the deceased music legend in the CMT series “Sun Records”. At the time, Drake was a senior in high school, and had to move from Texas to Nashville after landing the role.
A year later, Drake auditioned for “American Idol”, but then surprised viewers with his decision to drop out. The level-headed Texan was unprepared to cope with such a big platform, and chose to move to Nashville to focus on perfecting his musical skills first. Drake’s perseverance paid off, as he signed a deal with BBR Music Group after months of hard work and dedication.
In summer 2021, Drake released his debut self-titled EP, with each song racking up thousands of views on YouTube since. He also released the non-album single “Cowgirl for Christmas” in October 2021, and began working on his debut album.
When Drake and his band auditioned for AGT in 2022, performing a riveting original song “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”, the judges were blown away, and instantly said ‘yes’. Drake’s good looks and appealing personality made him a fan favorite, and thousands of viewers were heartbroken when he lost out to The Mayyas and Kristy Sellars in the season finale.
However, a day later, BBR Music Group struck while the iron was hot, and released Drake’s debut album “Dallas/Fort Worth”, although it’s possible that the artist wasn’t allowed to release music while appearing in the talent show. With over 70,000 Instagram followers as of September 2022, the charismatic musician has made clear that he’s ready to take his career to the next level, and has several concerts lined up around the states.
Keeping up with the tradition of old-school celebrities who rarely divulge details of their private lives, fans know virtually nothing about Drake, and must rely on internet sleuths for information on their tight-lipped idol. Drake’s parents, Jim and Angela Milligan, are humble folk who work in the scrap metal recycling and veterinarian industries respectively. It’s known that one of Drake’s grandfathers was an ensign in the US Navy, and who was rewarded with the prestigious Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal in the early 1960s.
As there is little to no information regarding Drake’s personal life, fans have assumed that the handsome Texan is single. However, it’s possible that he’s shielding his relationship status from the public eye, so as not to distract from what he wants to be known for: his musical talents and flowering career.
As mentioned, “American Idol” wasn’t the right fit for Drake at the time – but the talent show has spawned several household names, including Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, and the legendary country artist Carrie Underwood. The singing competition series, which first aired in 2002 and returned in 2018 after a two-year hiatus, has seen unparalleled success, and boasts spin-offs such as “American Juniors”, “An American Idol Christmas”, and “The Next Great American Band”.
Meet Drake Milligan, the new Elvis of country. 🎤
Posted by America's Got Talent on Tuesday, June 7, 2022
At first, the show intended to have four judges, but only three – Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson – had been found by the time filming for season one began. Interestingly, the radio DJ Stryker was originally picked out to be the fourth judge, but dropped out due to concerns for his image, while Angie Martinez also turned down the lucrative job.
From seasons one to eight, the show did well enough with its three-judge format. Over the years, new faces such as Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres have come and gone, eventually replacing the three original judges. Although the contestants are the focus of the show, executives soon found that the possibly scripted on-screen spats between judges – see Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj – made for entertaining viewing. The current judging panel consists of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Ryan Seacrest.
The show has, of course, seen its fair share of scandal in two decades – and the internet never forgets, even if the general public does. In February 2009, Joanna Pacitti was disqualified from the competition when news of her music industry connections broke. The brunette singer had broken the show’s number-one rule with her record deal, as “American Idol” wanted to find unsigned talent. Joanna’s disqualification was especially controversial because there was evidence that she had been an opening act for Nick Lachey on his tour. Cynics wondered how the show’s producers, who are meant to meticulously comb through the history of their contestants, overlooked Joanna’s history. Whatever the case, Joanna made it to semifinals before being unceremoniously given the boot.
Caleb Pike, a Season 19 contestant who made it to the top 5, also made headlines for all the wrong reasons, after a video of him sat next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan outfit began circulating online. Despite releasing a half-hearted apology via his Instagram account, the damage was done, as the aspiring musician’s career seems to have gone nowhere since.
Phillip Phillips, the guitar-playing and ruggedly handsome winner of Season 12, saw himself entrenched in a nasty legal battle with Idol’s production team. Lodging a petition with the California Labor Commissioner in early 2015, the musician claimed to have been manipulated by 19 Entertainment and its affiliate companies. After accusing 19 Entertainment of violating California’s Talent Agency Act and breaching fiduciary duties, Phillip was hit with a $6 million lawsuit from the production company after it filed for bankruptcy sometime in 2016, when Idol was cancelled.
After signing a deal with FremantleMedia Limited to reboot Idol on ABC, 19 Entertainment and Phillips reached a settlement and announced an amicable resolution, but declined to share any details. Money talks, and it’s believed but not confirmed that Phillip was paid seven figures to drop the lawsuit. which was negatively impacting the show’s publicity.
Last but not least, Frenchie Davis was disqualified from season two, due to topless photos that she’d had taken at the age of 19. Despite telling the producers about the photos beforehand, they ultimately decided that the musician would tarnish the show’s family image if news outlets caught wind of the racy images during the competition. These days, Frenchie has carved out her own lane as a professor and Broadway star, with critically acclaimed performances in “The Color Purple” and other musicals.
On a more positive note, the talent show has raised over $185 million over the years with its Idol Gives Back charity event, which began in season six. With celebrity performances and fundraising activities, the purpose of the star-studded event was to help underprivileged children around the world. The show’s creator, Simon Fuller, teamed up with British writer Richard Curtis to create the event, which was a roaring success in 2007, 2008 and 2010, the only three years it was held. To avoid backlash, the event wasn’t held in 2009 due to the crippling economic crisis, but it’s unknown why Idol Gives Back was quietly shelved after 2010.
“America’s Got Talent”
AGT is part of Simon Cowell’s worldwide “Got Talent” franchise. Produced by Fremantle USA and Syco Entertainment, and distributed by the latter, the show broadcasts on NBC, and premiered in June 2006 after initial plans to air a British edition in 2005 were quietly scrapped. Former and current judges include Sofia Vergara, David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and other household names who each add their unique twist to the program.
A show so extreme it took 10 years to get on TV! NBC’s AGT: Extreme premieres Monday 8/7c. pic.twitter.com/7MXcRk2VWX
— America’s Got Talent (@AGT) February 16, 2022
Common acts on the show include dancing, singing, magic performances, and comedy skits, although some truly weird novelty acts have graced the AGT stage, such as a mime act who wore duct tape over his mouth, and a professional regurgitator who made it to the semifinals against all odds. Since season three, winners have been offered the chance to headline a show on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as an attractive cash prize.
With an average of 10 million viewers per season, AGT has spawned the spin-off competitions “AGT: Extreme” and “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”. The 2013 book “Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America’s Got Talent” was also mildly successful thanks to its interviews with contestants and insider knowledge, despite being ignored by the general public.
A program of AGT’s caliber and popularity is bound to attract both positive and negative attention, if lawsuits and controversy are anything to go by. A-list actress Gabrielle Union took the show to court amidst turbulent allegations of racism and sexism on set, including threats from a former NBC executive. Fired after just one season as a judge, the “Bring It On” star also filed a discrimination complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, claiming that she was let go of after mentioning her concerns over the show’s toxic work environment.
Just four months after filing the lawsuit, Gabrielle and NBC settled out of court in September 2020. Gabrielle’s hairstyles were allegedly criticized for being “too black”, and she was called “difficult” when she complained about Simon smoking indoors. Despite an outside investigation not yielding any tangible results, it’s believed that NBC paid handsomely for Gabrielle’s silence due to her status. At the time, the tragic death of police brutality victim George Floyd was still fresh in the public’s memory, and NBC clearly preferred to avoid a backlash and negative publicity in a racially charged environment.
Three years prior, Tyra Banks of “America’s Next Top Model” fame landed herself in hot water, when she was accused of physically manipulating and verbally abusing the young daughter of a female contestant. The woman who filed the 18-page lawsuit against AGT’s production company in the Los Angeles Superior Court preferred not to be identified by name, and was referred to in court documents as Jane Doe.
Jane claimed that she and her husband were made to feel humiliated by the AGT judges and members of the public, but especially by Tyra, who reportedly ridiculed their performance of an original song written about their daughter, identified in the lawsuit as Mary Doe. The lawsuit continued: “As a result of her negative experience from AGT and Defendants’ abusive treatment, Mary was traumatized and became deeply depressed.”
As Jane and her husband’s performance never made it to TV screens, the lawsuit was largely forgotten about, and it’s unclear if AGT’s production team reached a settlement with the unhappy contestants. With that said, Tyra has a well-documented history of being less than kind with her remarks, and has gone viral several times for unflattering clips of her conduct while judging and hosting on ANTM. The former supermodel was replaced as host in 2019.
In March 2018, AGT was sued once again in a 20-page complaint by the family of Maureen Allen, who sustained grave injuries after falling from her wheelchair outside the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, where the show was being taped. According to Maureen’s family, the fall led to “multiple hospitalizations and operations” and, eventually to her untimely passing.
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Maureen and her husband, who were at the auditorium as volunteers for a sponsored science and engineering fair, found that there were no available disabled access points when they tried entering the venue. All the handicap access points were blocked by the show’s trailers and filming equipment except for one, but according to the lawsuit, “in order to gain access to [that ramp], individuals with disabilities were forced to navigate and maneuver over a large power cord protector that obstructed the only available path of travel.”
In an unfortunate incident, Maureen suffered a broken hip as well as head and arm injuries when she tried to move her wheelchair over the power cord protector. Her health rapidly declined following blood clots, a stroke, and eight procedures, until she was put on life support days before her death in June 2017. Once again, there is little to no news regarding the outcome of the lawsuit, although some news outlets have their eyes on their case for any further developments.