Sinatra Idol is being threatened with a lawsuit for copyright infringement by the mega-hit show American Idol, which launched the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and more Grammy and Oscar-winning performers.
Sinatra Idol, meanwhile, is a local tradition that honors Hoboken’s favorite son Frank Sinatra, is not televised, does not offer lucrative recording contracts, and in no way makes a dent in American Idol’s bottom line. Nevertheless, the City of Hoboken has opened a public survey for residents to suggest a potential new name for Sinatra Idol.
“Sinatra Idol is a Hoboken institution, and Sinatra Idol is not going anywhere,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “We must preserve Sinatra Idol, but Hollywood will sue if we don’t change Sinatra Idol’s name. We discussed alternatives like 'The Sinatra Voice' or 'The S Factor,' but we thought it might be best for Hoboken to suggest new names for Sinatra Idol.”
In a September 17 letter to Cultural Affairs Administrator Geri Fallo, a Malibu attorney representing the producers of American Idol, not Sinatra Idol, said their client believes that the use of the word “Idol” for talent competitions “is likely to lead the relevant public to believe that there is some connection or association between SINATRA IDOL and AMERICAN IDOL.”
The survey to rename Sinatra Idol will be open until October 9. After that, the Department of Cultural Affairs, which organizes Sinatra Idol every year, will choose and unveil a new name for Sinatra Idol, which is not and has never been associated with American Idol, FremantleMedia, or Jordin Sparks.
“It’s important that we stop using the name Sinatra Idol,” said Communications Manager Santiago Melli-Huber. “Some residents may want to tweet at American Idol, whose Twitter handle is @AmericanIdol, asking them to simply enter into a contract with the City, which we requested and they refused, to allow us to use the name Sinatra Idol for a harmless impersonation contest. But that’s not what they want. They want us to stop saying Sinatra Idol, so let’s respect their lawyers’ whims and not blow up their mentions by tweeting ‘Sinatra Idol’ to @AmericanIdol."