Friday, June 24, 2011

He's America's Got Talent's Hero

Landau Eugene Murphy, 36, a car wash attendant from West Virginia, is surely a hero in the minds of the folks over at America's Got Talent.

The other night, he provided just the kind of television that producers of AGT surely want. I was among millions who ate up his appearance. I loved it.

You can watch the seven minute clip in the video in this blog post. It is worth watching. It's great TV, especially once they get out of the preliminary stuff he Murphy goes on stage.

As you can see in the video, Murphy ambled out onto the stage with his unruly dreadlocks and his kind of shabby clothes. He was chewing gum. He seemed like a nice guy, but also a little awkward. He didn't seem ready for prime time, really.

Judge Piers Morgan ordered Murphy to put the gum away. Murphy did so by stuffing it into his jeans pocket.

Sharon Osborne asked what he was going to do. He said he was going to follow his dream. She looked doubtful. So did Morgan and fellow judge Howie Mandel.

Then Murphy opened his mouth to sing, and out came this gorgeous Frank Sinatra voice.  He brought the house down.

The three surprised celebrity judges heaped praise on Murphy. "Your life is never going to be the same," Mandel told Murphy, a prediction I have no doubt will come true.  Mandel's remarks, and the enthusiasm coming from the audience so overwhelmed Murphy that he burst into tears.

Will America's Got Talent greatly help, or hurt
Landau Eugene Murphy?
I so want Murphy to succeed, but I worry a bit that his appearance this week on AGT will be the best part of his radically changed life.  I worry about people who are plucked from obscurity and made into instant stars.

There's money to be made from talented people like Landau Eugene Murphy. And why not? He can make a living singing, and the record companies, the promoters and all those other people in the industry can share in some of the wealth.

But a lot of big industries, including the talent industry, are full of sharks. People will take advantage of Murphy, take more than their share of his money, overwork him, make him do things he has misgivings about, chew him up and spit him out.

Yes, I'm cynical. And I don't mean to be patronizing toward Murphy. From what little I know about him, he seems smart enough. Even so, this has hit him like an avalanche. Nobody can be fully prepared for it, especially since he has no experience here. AGT was the first audition and his first public performance as a singer. He can't know all the tricks of the behind the scenes trade yet.

Plus, no human is perfect. I'm not. You're not. Murphy is not.

The Landau Eugene Murphy story arc will be familiar. Somebody gets a big notice and they're celebrated. Then the entertainment reports dig, and find the skeletons in the closet. And you know everybody has them. They'll dig up a prior arrest, something he did or said that was stupid, a failed job, a failed relationship or any other failure and play it up.  Build him up, tear him down.

They do that to everybody. Everybody hungers for such an arc, and there's money to be made constructing the story arc.

Now that AGT has got me and many others firmly in Laudau Eugene Murphy's camp, I really hope he has the wherewithal to withstand the greedy people circling him. Unexpected success like Murphy's is like blood in the water. Right now, Murphy is the last person I want to see become shark food.

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