On Tuesday night, some 11.3 million people watched The Voice finalist Cassadee Pope perform on-air CPR.
One of the four finalists in NBC's blockbuster song-off, the West Palm Beach native took up a lifeless Keith Urban song, pumped that sucker full of actual artistic juice, and miraculously came out with a damn good tear jerker. It was enough to leave judge Christina Aguilera gushing about Pope's "true superstar" potential.
But it's the cash windfall from that potential that's created a slight hitch in Pope' upward trajectory -- a rise that will only go into warp-drive if she wins The Voice.
As we reported back in July 2011, Pope is locked in a legal battle over who has the rights to her success. Now more than a year later, the case continues to grind on, with a significant court hearing scheduled for January.
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In one corner we have Driven Productions, a business run by husband-and-wife duo Dominick and Tammy Centi. The couple began working with Pope when she was 12 and throughout her days fronting local bands. The relationship soured after Pope began receiving major label attention; the singer fired the first legal shot in 2008 with a suit asking the court to dissolve her Driven contract on the grounds that it wasn't legally kosher.
The couple sued for $50 million in 2011 on the basis that Sony Music stepped between their relationship with Pope.
"Cassadee Pope says that the contract was not a legitimate contract because you are not allowed to have more than one client unless you have a particular license," explains the couple's attorney, Peter Ticktin. "We agree with that, except she was the one client." Regardless of the nature of the contracts, there was "clearly a business relationship," Ticktin says.
Pope's current attorney, Richard Wolfe, counters that the couple has no foothold because the original contracts are still bunk and illegal. "I have one word to describe that lawsuit: ridiculous. Driven is thoroughly inexperience, they have no idea what they are doing, and they are thorough novices in the music industry," he tells New Times. "You have a very greedy manager/talent agent who wants to glom an interest in Cassadee's career."
On January 16, a Broward County judge is schedule to rule on the original suit, a decision that could set the stage for whether the second set of claims still has legs. And while each side is trying to pin accusations of greed to the other, there's obviously a lot of money at stake in Pope's career -- especially if she comes out the big winner on the show's December 18 finale.