A camera-shy subway busker is suing MTV and its parent company Viacom in New Jersey Federal Court, claiming his privacy was violated and his reputation was tarnished when his image appeared on the documentary show Nicki Minaj: My Time Now.
Street drummer Mike Alaska, whose real name is Michael Savely, appeared fleetingly during the opening of a show about the music and life of the Grammy-nominated R&B singer.
He claims that he was filmed by the show’s producers in November 2010 and approached to sign a waiver. He refused, he says, because he was concerned that “the footage would misrepresent his connection with other artists whose style conflict with the one that he has developed.”
Despite his refusal to grant permission to the music network, he says, his image appeared on the show in December 2010.
Savely, 26, who often sports a foot-high mohawk, says his business teaching drumming to children was damaged by his appearance on the show.
He also complained that the footage was blurry.
“[Savely] understands that the reason many of the parents of the students he teaches employ his services is because they can trust him to provide their children with something more modern yet not corrupt,” according to the suit.
Minaj, 26, on the other hand, “dresses provocatively, uses profanity and glorifies a specific lifestyle,” all of which is contrary to Savely’s more “conservative” image, he says in court papers.
His image began to appear on the show in December 2010, after which his tutoring business and T-shirt sales went down hill, Savely says.
Despite the fact that Savely was drumming on a public subway platform, he claims MTV violated his privacy.
When reached for comment, Savely requested money for his interview.
“For anything like that, I’d have to charge,” he said over the phone. “I don’t give out free interviews.”
He declined to name a price and suggested Adweek e-mail him with an offer.
“We’re going to have to negotiate something first,” he said.
Viacom declined to comment.