An "American Idol" appearance is hardly a guaranteed money machine. To leverage that invaluable weekly exposure to 20-plus million viewers into a sustainable career, most Idols have to adapt, retool -- and occasionally step beyond their comfort zone.
Broadway has been one preferred career detour, especially for those three or four contestants each year who are selected as clients by 19 Entertainment, the management company founded by Idol creator Simon Fuller.
Clients, including Jordin Sparks ("In the Heights"), Clay Aiken ("Spamalot") and Ruben Studdard ("Ain't Misbehavin'"), have all trod the boards on the Great White Way, as have dozens of other "Idol" contestants, including Taylor Hicks ("Grease"), Diana DeGarmo ("Hairspray," "9 to 5") and Constantine Maroulis ("Rock of Ages").
Jennifer Hudson became the first "Idol" Oscar winner for her role in the film version of "Dreamgirls."
With 100 former "Idol" top 12 contestants now competing for the love, versatility definitely becomes an asset, if not a survival tool.
"Some of the ones that are so great but don't win, everybody says, 'Oh, they'll be fine, they were such a great contender,'" says Rushfield. "But the public's attention span can be pretty short."