2014 Vote for the Girls conflict
|2014-15 Vote for the Girls conflict|
|Part of Vote for the Girls controversies and American Idol controversies|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
The 2014-15 Vote for the Girls conflict is a media and public relations conflict involving American entrepreneurs Ava Zinn, Holly Everman, Lawrence Hedrick, and other key individuals. Zinn, the founder and administrator of the long-running popular web sites INNewsCenter from the 1999 launch until 2011 and a revival in 2014 as well as the popular yet controversial Vote for the Girls since its 2010 debut (the franchise has grown to include adaptations in other countries). When Vote for the Girls launched in 2010, the site competed against Vote for the Worst (a site created by Dave Della Terza) and Hedrick's site Vote Against the Producers after Della Tera closed Vote for the Worst in May 2013.
Vote Against the Producers failed to attract immediate supporters while Vote for the Girls became as much popular following the site's victory with Melanie Amaro after her win on the first season of the United States X Factor until the site failed to help Christina Grimmie win the sixth season of The Voice, but a quick short-lived rebound happened when the site added Dancing with the Stars and helped Betheney Mota, Sadie Robertson, Janell Parrish, and Alfonso Ribeiro to the season 19 finale. During this time, Ava Zinn and Holly Everman, seeing their Facebook profiles decline, grew restless after the respective deaths of Zinn's wife of nine years (Angie Willis) in 2010 and Robyn Hurd in 2012. Both Ava Zinn and Holy Everman created a quick solution that proved to be embarrassing for Zinn and an image disaster for Everman. The conflict began with the Vote for the Girls brawl that was an altercation that occurred in during a taping of an episode of the fifth season of Vote for the Girls between moderators Holly Everman and Khayla Chow on April 10, 2014. The press called it "the most infamous episode in Vote for the Girls history since Pia Toscano's elimination on American Idol." The conflict initially ended tentatively on November 17, 2014 following the semi-final result of the ninteenth season of Dancing with the Stars with the website's first and only official of victory of 2014 as well as the first such from DWTS. The conflict initially ended on January 4, 2015 with the terminations of two individuals and both were replaced by Zinn's girlfriend of two months, former Denver personality Kymberly Alvaraz. The situation is still ongoing.
With less than a three minutes left during the American Idol 13 Top 8 Redux Result, a fight broke out between moderators on the set of Vote for the Girls. After the fight was broken up, an fan in the audience threw a drink at Vote for the Girls UK moderator Khayla Chow after shoving Holly Everman to the floor after Everman called Chow an "bi-black bimbo". Chow then entered the audience and sparked a massive brawl between moderators and the audience.
- 1 Background
- 2 Early History
- 3 Over the air reception issues
- 4 Events leading up to the conflict
- 5 Conflict
- 6 Impact
- 7 Reaction and aftermath
- 8 References
In February 2011, Vote for the Girls began its second season and on a quest to get the site's first victory for American Idol and the site as a whole, Ava Zinn continued to campaign to vote for the female contestants on Idol. Among these supporters were longtime friends of Ava Zinn's-- Robyn Hurd, Holly Everman, and Alec Dailey. All of them began to watch American Idol with Zinn beginning with the seventh season. During the tenth season of American Idol, the first five eliminated contestants were all female. Two of those eliminated contestants were Vote for the Girls picks were Thia Megia and Pia Toscano, the latter of which was the most shocking elimination in the site as well as American Idol history.
Toscano's elimination did not sit well with Vote for the Girls moderators Zinn, Hurd, and Everman, as well as Dailey, and other longtime friends, if not acquaintances, of Zinn's, Kristy Habiby and Ricardo Mesina. In a Facebook post , Dailey commented that he was done watching American Idol. At the time, Vote for the Girls had been in competition against Vote for the Worst, whom supported Paul MacDonald. Ava Zinn sought what eventually became one of strongest campaigns, if not the most successful in Vote for the Girls history, and it became obvious that following Toscano's elimination, the site which had Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina, to make the finale. Lauren Alaina became the site's longest pick for 12 weeks (from the Women's SemiFinals to the finale) until being tied with Jessica Meuse (also 12 weeks from Rush Week to Top 4) and later broken by Jena Irene (lasted 14 weeks from Rush Week to finale). Haley Reinhart was also another Vote for the Girls pick from Top 8 to Top 3, and became the same pick as rival Vote for the Worst from Top 4 to Top 3.
Ava Zinn's American Idol Audition (2011/2012)
On April 18, 2011, just four days after Vote for the Worst pick Paul MacDonald was voted off as the first male being eliminated, Vote for the Girls founder and creator Ava Zinn announced on her YouTube channel (which also housed Vote for the Girls shows at the time) that she would audition for the 11th season of American Idol in the summer of 2011. There was speculation that Zinn made the announcement after Pia Toscano was eliminated and finished ninth place, and in 2013, it was confirmed that Zinn did in fact make a friendly wager.
Ava Zinn's American Idol audition was heavily promoted on Vote for the Girls. With Ava Zinn hoping to gain a large audience (and eventually support for Vote for the Girls), especially among fellow audtioners in the markets of Pittsburgh (as Hurd's daughter, Maribel, attended high school there), Indianapolis (Zinn and Everman's home market) and Fort Wayne (Zinn's secondary home market), which Zinn's other site at the time, INNewsCenter, had a huge following on YouTube and that site closed days before Zinn's audition in Pittsburgh. Many of Zinn's friends touted Zinn's audition as the best post on Facebook in July 2011. However, there was a make-up competition, So You Think You Can Dance. Because of Zinn's American Idol audition commitments, Zinn would not be available for the site's So You Think You Can Dance 8 make-up competition as Lauren Alaina was the runner-up of American Idol 10. Holly Everman and Robyn Hurd stayed behind for the SYTYCD competition.
AZH ran six YouTube Operations Control (YTOCs), in Marion, Indiana, Erie, Pennsylvania, Houston, Racine, Wisconsin, Denver and San Fransisco, with the last the largest. Zinn was stationed at the Marion YTOC for the competitions. In 2008, Zinn and Bright House entered into a dispute over channel lineups that stemmed from the LIN TV/Time Warner Cable that saw then-Indianapolis CBS affiliate WISH-TV (channel 8, now a CW affiliate), Indianapolis My Network TV affiliate WNDY-TV (channel 23) and current Fort Wayne CBS affiliate WANE-TV (channel 15), a longtime sister station of WISH-TV in Fort Wayne dropped in a October 2008 carriage dispute that saw only WISH-TV and WNDY return after a 26-day blackout. Zinn felt betrayed by Bright House in Marion after so many years of loyalty as Zinn had loyal to Fort Wayne and Indianapolis as well as effectively sealing the fate of INNewsCenter, another site Zinn owns and operates. As a safeguard, she began to shop for a new TV provider deal of her own, which she did drop Bright House upon learning that Fort Wayne ABC affiliate WPTA-TV (channel 21) and NBC affiliate WISE-TV (channel 33) would be dropped. Eventually, Zinn decided to go with over the air television since she realized there would be no TV provider she could find to replace Bright House, much to the chagrin of the landlord of AZH's Marion YTOC. The only TV provider with Zinn that is close to cable or satellite after Zinn dropped Bright House is considered to be an Internet streaming/over-the-air TV hybrid as a TV provider for Zinn began on July 15, 2012 when Zinn switched to a new Internet Service Provider.
Over the air reception issues
Months after Zinn dropped Bright House Networks, Zinn continued receive Indianapolis and Fort Wayne stations even after the June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. But reception problems with WISH-TV, WTHR, and Indianapolis Fox affiliate WXIN-TV (channel 59) were evident for two years beginning in June 2010 as Marion, Indiana on the fringe of both Grade B signals from both Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.
After Vote for the Girls launched in 2010, the site was able to make headway against the Dave Della Terza version of Vote for the Worst, but the site's success was hampered by the above reception issues as well as Zinn being in the midst of a domino effect that began after a fateful high school prom and ongoing gender transition, as the latter eventually catapulted Zinn into the transgender community's strongest transwomen in the United States and by 2007, was the 6th strongest transgender women residing in Indiana.
The situation grew dire in 2011, when Nexstar and Fox entered into a dispute over terms of reverse compensation; this occurred as Fox began to aggressively seek shares of earnings from retransmission consent agreements with cable and satellite operators as part of affiliation agreement renewals between station groups with affiliates whose affiliation contracts already expired (and carrying the network's programming without a contractual agreement) or were near expiration. Reportedly, the amount from retransmission consent fees from cable and satellite operators that Fox wanted its affiliates to pay the network would be 25 cents per subscriber during the first year of the affiliation agreement, increasing to 50 cents by the fourth year. President of affiliate sales and marketing for Fox, Mike Hopkins, had said earlier in the year that the network would consider moving its affiliation to another market station as a last resort, if existing affiliates did not agree to the terms for reverse compensation retrans sharing. One of those four markets where Fox dropped its affiliation from Nexstar-owned/managed stations was Fort Wayne, with the replacement stations adding Fox in addition to existing affiliations with the MyNetworkTV program service (owned by Fox parent company News Corporation). In Fort Wayne, the Fox affiliation moved from WFFT-TV (channel 55, which Bright House removed in March 2012) to an MNT-affiliated subchannel of NBC affiliate WISE-TV on August 1. Eighteen months later after the settlement of Nexstar's antitrust lawsuit against WISE-TV owner Granite Broadcasting Corporation, WFFT-TV reclaimed the Fox affiliation on March 1, 2013. By then, the damage had already been done and it was too late.
Ongoing reception issues prevented Zinn from hosting Vote for the Girls after Robyn Hurd's final appearance on May 3, 2012, resulting in Zinn finding another location to view the American Idol 11, Duets competition, and the So You Think You Can Dance 9 make-up competition, so guest moderators filled in for Zinn and/or Everman due to her honeymoon. Two VFTG presentations of the Duets episodes did not air on the site's YouTube channel until September 2013 as a "Classic Vote for the Girls". The American Idol 11 Top 4 and Top 3 competitions have yet to be re-aired under the "Classic Vote for the Girls" banner.
Zinn's fate in Marion was sealed on June 29, 2012 when severe thunderstorms affected the Marion/Grant County, Indiana area. The television tower at the AZH Marion YTOC facility collapsed after high winds caused the tower to fall on the facilities that housed AZH, suffered minor cosmetic damage and knocked out over-the-air television service that Zinn relied on following her decision to drop Bright House. With the facility's landlord/managment deciding not to rebulid the tower, meaning all tenants of the facility subscribe to at least basic cable from Bright House. Zinn opted not to comply and by doing so risked eviction for non-compliance, prompting Zinn to consider relocating out of Marion after failing to find another facility and another college to replace IWU. As a contingency plan, Zinn accelerated efforts and approached apartment complexes in Indianpolis, South Bend, Muncie, Fort Wayne, Anderson, Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh about the possibility of moving to those cities--eventually narrowing down to Muncie, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne, the latter of the two would solve the over-the-air reception issues once and for all, out of frustrations and eventually other factors that would lead to Zinn's eventual move that would take years to finally make it a success. However, it was discovered in 2014, that an outright move to would cause Zinn to assume a large amount of the debt and allowed the deal with Keystone North Apartments to fall through. Zinn blamed a local mental health facility for causing the deal with Keystone North to fall through.
Vote for the Girls season 3 events
Vote for the Girls moderators' preparations for the inaugural season of The Factor and the 11th season of American Idol were routine. Both competitions allowed Zinn, Everman, and Hurd to make her own picks as opposed to the pick chosen by Zinn. Zinn hoped that friends and fans of each moderator that chose the female contestant the site encourages fans of the site to vote for would keep the female contestants in the competition and would watch how the moderators' picks lasted. They anticipated good reviews, which would cause the audience to help the site finally get its first victory as "a perfect opportunity for the site's potential perfect season".
The site hoped to gain a large audience, especially among the coveted females 18-49 demographic, whom the site anticipated would end the four year winning streak of males winning American Idol by fans of the site simply not voting for any of the male contestants. Ads for the site were not sold by Aeverine Zinn Holdings; instead, the entire blocks of both competitions were sold to Carey Services, Zinn's secondary employer at the time, which Zinn would post the competitions have Carey Services' own commercials run. Under the terms of the contract between Carey Services and Aeverine Zinn Holdings, Zinn and the moderators (Everman and Hurd)--as per Vote for the Girls moderator rules--have be promptly present for X Factor and American Idol (for one of the moderators to post the voting information) on the performance night from 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central) to its conclusion and record the site's presentation of the results show(s) night both at the home location of Aeverine Zinn Holdings, and cannot be interrupted, delayed, or joined in progress for any reason--even if its caused by weather conditions or over-the-air reception problems/cable television blackouts.
The nerve center for Aeverine Zinn Holdings was known as YouTube Operations Control (YTOC). Ava Zinn, in her role as executive producer of the site, prepared the series of orders which would result in the competitions running as scheduled. Zinn had no reason to believe that the results shows would run over 15 minutes; no results show presented by Aeverine Zinn Holdings ever had. However, other AZH executives (mostly Zinn's immediate family) stressed that the results shows must be started as scheduled. Zinn's daughter, Samantha told Zinn before 2012 that the well-sponsored, well-promoted American Idol 11 competition must start on time. Zinn had to make sure that the results shows must start at 7 in the East, over Zinn's other commitments and objections that she had been trained never to leave a results show or performance show in progress.
Holly Everman and Robyn Hurd were also in the Marion YTOC watching the performances and results shows, which was expected to be exciting.
Death of Robyn Hurd and Wedding of Holly Everman
The three-woman moderator team of Zinn, Everman, and Hurd was a ratings success with Vote for the Girls, and launched spoofs regarding how the three would pitch ideas to each other during the competitions by saying the other's name: "Ava"..."Holly"...."Robyn," etc.
During the site's first two years, Everman and Hurd could be seen to have a drink or two, but never during the actual aired segment. AZH eventually caught on to what was happening, and even resorted to hide what was going on by superposing a slide with the words "VOTE FOR THE GIRLS" on the screen during the live feed during times that Everman was not live over the actual VFTG broadcast. In addition, Everman could often be seen being harsh, especially Hurd, towards those who worked around her during the live feed.
Hurd was, in reality, overcome with incredulity; in private conversations, she likened the situation to a relationship, noting that she was loyal and still ended up "heartbroken." From her perspective, the situation made no sense: they had remained number one in ratings and consistently brought in good buzz. Hurd continued to produce special programs aimed at young viewers Prejudice: Answering Kids and Teen's Questions, a forum on Vote for the Girls in September 2010.
While Everman called Zinn to reiterate that the generational change was expected, other executives were not as pleased. Zinn wasn't 100 percent happy with the lack of promotion in the show's early weeks of the site's third season.
Over the following weeks, Zinn grew weary with the American Idol 11 performance and not helping matters were what the above reception issues. By the early April 2012, with Jessica Sanchez's save on American Idol, Vote for the Girls USA quickly overtook Vote for the Worst for the first time. As the weeks wore on, Everman and Hurd noticed that the site was doing much better than Vote for the Worst in both overall numbers and young demographics.
By that time Hurd became ill, leaving both Zinn and Everman to moderate the site until she planned to return; she never did and died from complications of a stroke on May 24, 2012. A rotation of guest moderators filled in until the start of the site's fourth season.
Slipping numbers elsewhere
Zinn and Everman's friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter began to slip, especially with Ava Zinn, creating high anxiety for Zinn herself. Zinn's other commitments had still retained a slightly higher share, but did see those numbers slip even more by May 2012. Friends and fans of Ava Zinn began to complain, and in addition to a domino effect on Zinn's commitments at Carey Services, family and facility maintenance, and by March 2014 the disastrous ratings for Vote for the Girls had damaged Zinn's existing obligations and lineups. Clearing the time period for a Vote for the Girls taping lead-in also damaged relations with the officials of meetings that previously occupied the lead-in slot.
Friends and guests of Zinn and Everman calls came at an alarming rate, when very poor revenue came in, Zinn's friends became persistent and demanded something be done regarding Vote for the Girls fast. Accordingly, Ava Zinn sought to make upgrades of the slate of other obligations and commitments, which were made up of some key people and sponsors that either had been under-performing, poor time management or poorly-performing local partnerships/ventures. One of those poorly-performing partnerships was a local mental health clinic in Marion, Indiana, and from 1987 until early 2014, had a fairly good, if not overall great relations with AZH and Zinn warned the clinic that she would end its affiliation unless improvements were made and fast.
If something were not done by January 2015, Zinn's friends reasoned, they would instate unfriending Zinn on Facebook. Desperate for a decision, Everman, Rock, and new hires Kym Christian, Lanise White and Kendra Ray kicked around possible solutions for Vote for the Girls' dilemma, such as Zinn giving the weekday 3:00-5:00 p.m. and Friday day slot to Vote for the Girls thus effectively giving the mental health clinic relatively few appointment slots. In an their attempt attempt to alleviate the situation, White suggested to combining the result shows onto a single Vote for the Girls episode, resulting in many double or triple episodes and longer production time to as much as 16 hours to render a 45 to 60 minute YouTube episode -- which was evident during the Rising Star competition, resulting in Zinn missing the 48 hour deadline on three occasions and taking longer than expected. Rock again received the suggestion to Zinn giving the weekday 3-5 p.m. and Friday afternoon slots to VFTG, and soon began testing out a plan to cut Zinn's other commitments to a half-hour appointments. The biggest calamity in this scenario would be Zinn's family and friend time as well as the UK and Australian versions of Vote for the Girls, which would get bumped or relegated to weekends. The reconfigured lineup could start in October 2014. Everman preferred a plan for Zinn to include an occasional guest and favored returning to the way it once was, with Vote for the Girls on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and Zinn's other commitments on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (this plan would effectively cancel the UK and Australian versions of VFTG).
In September 2014, Zinn turned down all their solutions almost immediately and dropped the opening round and quarter-final episodes of VFTG USA, UK, and Australia. Within a week of Zinn's decision, on September 26, 2014, a guest (later revealed to be Khayla Chow), unaware of Zinn's schedule until eventually being informed at a later date, tried to disrupt production 90 minutes into the rehearsal for the start of the second series of Vote for the Girls UK, startling moderator Tracia Ward and creating a disruption.
Events leading up to the conflict
Altercations on April 10, 2014 (U.S. version)
The Vote for the Girls brawl began upon the announcement Vote for the Girls pick Malaya Watson had the fewest votes on April 10, 2014. A week earlier Holly Everman commented after Sam Woolf was saved from elimination and learning about Rachael O'Connor's elimination and subsequent loss on The Voice UK for the British version of VFTG stating: "I denounce that Khayla Chow is no good as a Bi-black-bimbo when it comes to making picks to win these singing competitions." Everman later said that Choow had warned her she would be hit. Chow and Everman got into a heated argument about Watson's elimination and Chow responded by shoving Everman in the face with both hands and onto the floor, which led to a physical confrontation between several moderators and audience members with Ava Zinn trying to keep Everman and Chow separated.
Suspensions and Terminations
In April 2014, Ava Zinn suspended Everman, Chow, Rock, and Jameson indefinitely, saying that their actions were "shocking, repulsive, and inexcusable". In the September incident Julia Passalt and Kym Christian were also seen fighting with fans, but Zinn stated that they wouldn't be suspended because "the incident occurred as the moderators were attempting to leave the floor". Chow and Jameson were terminated from the U.S. version on September 18, 2014 and effectively terminated Chow's moderator contract on the UK version. Jameson resigned from the UK version on April 7, 2014.
Everman was given the longest suspension; she was suspended for the two weeks of the April incident and the remainder of the fall cycle of the site's sixth season, a suspension which eventually totaled 30 shows, the longest suspension for an on-set incident in Vote for the Girls USA history. The suspended suspended also lost in excess of $2 million in salary due to the suspensions, with Everman alone losing over $1 million.
In the week following the announcement of the terminations of Chow and Jameson, an arbitrator appealed the suspensions and/or terminations of Chow, Rock, and Everman, saying they thought that Ava Zinn had "exceeded her authority". (Rock felt that despite losing hundreds of thousands the moderators were fortunate, however, as Zinn could have expelled them from the franchise.) A local arbitrator upheld the full length of all suspensions, except that of Everman, which was reduced to the fall cycle. However, a judge issued an injunction allowing Everman to resume duties, until a full hearing was held. Zinn argued that under the terms of the moderator's agreement Zinn had absolute authority to hand out suspensions and hear appeals for all on-set incidents. But the judge ruled that because Everman's behavior was an off-court incident, arbitration was allowed under the moderator's agreement, and thus the arbitrator was within his rights to reduce the suspension.
Everman returned to Vote for the Girls USA panel on October 27, 2014.
Legal Charges in April 2014 U.S. brawl
|Moderator||Suspension by VFTG||Fine(s) paid|
|Everman, HollyHolly Everman*||remainder of Vote for the Girls 2015, later reduced to the fall cycle||$1,275,000|
|Chow, KhaylaKhayla Chow*||terminated on September 18, 2014||$100,000|
|Jameson, KathiKathi Jameson||terminated on September 18, 2014 (for an unrelated incident)||$50,000|
|Rock, KellieKellie Rock*||two week suspension for an unrelated incident||$20,000|
|* indicate moderators who faced legal consequences; they all received similar sentences:
Hours following the brawl on the early morning hours of April 11, 2014, Everman was arrested under suspicion of DUI in Indianapolis, Indiana.  According to a source that alerted Ava Zinn, Everman has had an ongoing alcohol problem since the elimination of Pia Toscano three years earlier. On August 23, 2014, Everman was arrested for the second time for DUI on the northeast side of Indianapolis.
Watts was identified by Julia Passalt, who had been her neighbor when she anchored news in Minneapolis. On April 30, Aeverine Zinn Holdings, the owner of the Vote for the Girls franchise, banned Watts and another producer from attending any events at Aeverine Zinn Holdings properties. Watts had several previous criminal convictions, including felony assault and four drunken driving convictions, and she was on court-ordered probation from a DUI conviction at the time of the brawl.
On May 18, 2014, Rock, Chow and three fans (Watts, Rochelle Williams, and Klaudia Kline) were charged for assault and battery. Kellie Rock and spectator Watts, who Passalt said "single-handedly incited" the brawl by throwing a cup of liquid at Chow, were charged with two counts, and Chow and Everman were charged with one count each. One fan received one count of the same charge; another fan who entered the set during the fight were charged with trespassing, and Klaudia Kline, who had prior criminal convictions, was charged with felony assault for throwing an object at Jameson's eye. All of the fans involved were banned from attending Vote for the Girls tapings.
On August 4, 2014, Klaudia Kline pleaded no contest to a felony assault charge for throwing the object, and on September 9, 2014, she was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution. Also on that day in a related incident, Everman was charged with two misdemeanor counts in both Indianapolis DUI incidents: operating a vehicle while intoxicated, which is a Class C misdemeanor in Indiana. Prosecutors allege Everman was under the influence of rage and was seeking revenge against fans of The Voice winner Josh Kaufman and noted an earlier online incident during the site's third season which Everman reportedly bullied a former classmate for her decision not to support Carly Rose Sonenclar.
On September 10, 2014, Everman was sentenced to one year of probation during which she is forbidden from consuming or possessing alcohol and her driving privileges were revoked for a period of six months and 20 days. She will be subject to random drug testing as a condition of her probation. In addition, the judge stipulated that any subsequent OWI charge in a three year period will be treated as a felony. Ava Zinn suspended Everman for the remainder of the season and also levied a fine of $1,200,000. As a result, Everman had to forfeit her male moderator offer deal made in the Rising Star competition of $1,200,000. She was also forbidden from doing any media interviews or making comments related to the team on social media during the suspension.
All three moderators who were charged pleaded no contest to the charges. On September 15, 2014, Chow, Rock, and Everman were all sentenced to one year on probation, 40 hours of community service and anger management counseling.
On October 23, 2014, a jury found Watts guilty on one count of assault and battery for punching Chow in the stands, but acquitted her of an assault charge for throwing the cup. Watts will be sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years' probation. In November 2014, Ava Zinn issued a certified letter to Watts informing her that she was banned for life from attending any Vote for the Girls tapings.
Ava Zinn Auctions off Virginity to Kymberly Alvaraz
Altercations on November 2, 2014 (UK Version)
Another Vote for the Girls brawl (in the UK adaptation) began upon the announcement Vote for the Girls pick Lola Saunders had the fewest votes on November 2, 2014 after it was revealed that the judges were unable to reach a majority verdict on who to send home, the result went to deadlock and revealed that Lola Saunders had the fewest votes. Immediately afterwards, Ward and White got into a heated argument about Saunders' elimination and Ward responded by shoving White in the chest with both hands and onto the floor, then Tracia Ward stormed over to Lanise White and aggressively walked over the top of her, resulting in White pulling Ward down with her. White threw a punch at Ward before being tackled by Rhonda Rhodes as moderators from the USA and Australian adaptations (as they were guests) quickly intervened. Rachael Passalt came off the guest bench as a peacemaker, but the 190-pounder incited more violence when she inadvertently knocked Vote for the Girls US moderator Karly Ryder, Jr. backwards to the floor after Ryder threw a punch at the junior Passalt. Kathi Jameson, pushed and punched Rachael Passalt in the back from behind. Ward, Rhodes, White, Ryder, Jameson, and Passalt were all ejected from the episode. Several audience members threw drinks pointed at Ava Zinn while trying to keep White and White separated. The altercation also resulted in an unknown injury to Ava Zinn, that resulted in vomiting while taping an episode on the U.S. version the following night.
|Moderator||VFTG Adaptation||Suspension Length||Reason||Fine(s) paid (USD)|
|Tracia Ward*||UK||6 weeks (4 in the US and 2 in the UK)||Initiated altercation||£250,000 ($400,128)|
|Rhonda Rhodes*||UK||10 weeks (5 in the US and UK each)||Threw a punch, left the panel, and used a weapon||£100,000 ($160,051)|
|Rachael Passalt||Australia||4 weeks (all Australia)||Escalated altercation||£50,000 ($80,026)|
|Lanise White*||U.S.||3 weeks (all US)||Left the panel, threw a punch||£20,000 ($32,010)|
|Karly Ryder, Jr.*||U.S.||terminated on November 14, 2014 (initially 3 weeks (all US))||Left the panel, threw a punch||£20,000 ($32,010) in the UK|
$40,000 in the US
|Kathi Jameson||Australia||2 weeks (all Australia)||Threw a punch||£15,000 ($24,008)|
|Julia Passalt||U.S.||1 week||Left the bench||£7,500 ($12,004)|
|* indicate moderators who face legal consequences
According to VFTG rules:
- Any moderator not on the floor who leaves the moderator panel area during the altercation receives a one-week suspension.
- Any moderator who attempts to throw a punch (successful or not) receives a two-week suspension.
Because the Australian version of Vote for the Girls was not in production, Kathi Jameson and Rachael Passalt both started serving their suspensions the immediate second episode of VFTG. Also according to VFTG rules, each adaptation must have at least three active moderators and/or co-hosts to tape an episode.
Tracia Ward forfeited her £250,000 Male Moderator offer on November 16, 2014 and served only two weeks of her suspension due to her credit of one week absence.
Zinn's plan moved forward after confirmation that the moderators contract guarantee a strict 7:00 p.m. taping and 4:00 p.m. rehearsal start time (a clause in Ava Zinn's contract did not guarantee the same for her other obligations to accommodate Zinn's commitments with the U.S., UK, and Australian versions of Vote for the Girls.)
By then, it became evident that Zinn would wind up leaving Carey Services, which she did on May 31, 2013 for reasons unrelated to Vote for the Girls--a move that proved to be costly a year later as she Zinn feared that her ongoing gender transition and lack of support were the secondary reason for Zinn's resignation. One acquaintance, viewed Zinn's resignation from Carey Services reactionary one by Everman, concluding that Zinn had was in the process of launching three new YouTube series the UK and Australian versions of VFTG, both debuted in June 2013 and May 2015, respectively, and Housing Hell in 2016, as well as a revival of INNewsCenter in 2014.
Schedule conflicts and Zinn's other commitments in 2013 and 2014
With Zinn launching the UK version and developing the Australian version of Vote for the Girls, and her desire to make the Vote for the Girls franchise to be a successful. Zinn used all her sick and vacation days at Carey Services to accommodate not only Vote for the Girls, but Zinn's other commitments and obligations and the revenue was not coming in. Everman and Zinn without urgency discussed the fact that Zinn's other commitments and obligations as well as the length of a typical Vote for the Girls episode seemed to be running longer than expected.
As the the American Idol 13 and The Voice 6 competitions began in Febraury 2014, Zinn had been relegated to using credit cards to promote Vote for the Girls after the site's victories of Tessanne Chin and Alex & Sierra which the moderators were rewarded with a party with Ava Zinn to celebrate her 31st birthday on January 4, 2014 but the celebration would be cut short as Zinn had to also prepare for record cold temperatures that eventually played an unrelated role that lead to the eventual conflict and AZH executives began to realize Zinn's other commitments and obligations might create a conflict. Everman recalled:
Ava (Zinn) kept promoting Vote for the Girls, kept promoting Vote for the Girls. I kept looking at my calendar and I looked at Ava's calendar and the financial statements which as a friend is typically unusual, and I said to myself by May, there's no way to me that Ava Zinn's obligations and our Vote for the Girls' obligations are going to make this by year's end. Ava told us going into the new year (2014) that Vote for the Girls 2014 had to be a perfect season...I looked at the numbers, looked at historical numbers, looked at both The Voice and American Idol, and thought, 'no fucking way is this shit going to happen'. I had that feeling going into 2014 that something would go wrong with Vote for the Girls.
Zinn, watching the American Idol 13 competition nervously, attempted to reason with fans of the site to simply refrain from voting for the male contestants, only to find her tactics, efforts, and campaigning not working. She then made one final, unsuccessful attempt to get an undefeated season (which has only happened on the Italy and Swedish versions of Vote for the Girls since their debuts).
Beginning in late March 2014, members of the American public began complaining to Zinn and Vote for the Girls over the MK Nobilette pick and Zinn had threatened if she would do something drastic if she didn't get a perfect season. Among Zinn's threats were selling her virginity, doing porn, and brash impulsiveness, which has led to several awkward situations for Zinn. Some demanded Zinn reconsider her rash decisions and threats. These complaints eventually jammed AvaZinn.com's servers and also spammed the site, and even caused the Vote for the Girls site to crash in March 2014, preventing the moderators to post voting information for the VFTG picks to resolve the situation.
October 21, 2014 shooting of Khayla Chow
On September 26, 2014, Khayla Chow tried to disrupt production 90 minutes into the rehearsal for the start of the second series of Vote for the Girls UK, startling moderator Tracia Ward and creating a disruption. This happened again on the U.S. version on September 28, 2014, this time confirming that another 9/27 type attack has happened. The guest in both incidents was later revealed to be Khayla Chow's friend Victoria Glassering according to surveillance cameras.
Then on October 21, 2014, Chow and Glassering, were both fatally shot by Kym Christian. A day earlier, Christain and fellow VFTG moderator Kendra Ray got into a heated argument over their Dancing with the Stars picks, which Christian goaded Lanise White a "bitch" after her own pick of Jonathan Bennett and Alison Holker was elimnated and upon seeing that Christian's own Team Pharrel pick of Brittany Butler was not chosen to advance to the Knockouts on the seventh season of The Voice, Chow fired a warning shot that lead to altercation that caused Christian to shooting Chow, who did possess a .45-caliber handgun aiming at Julia Passalt (Chow believed it was Holly Everman) and fired at Christian, striking Christian's calf after missing Passalt. A gun battle with the four women then ensued, with Christian suffering two gunshot wounds to her left leg by Chow's gun. Christian then used her husband's .357 Magnum revolver and returned fire shooting Chow three times. Christian was subsequently taken into custody, treated for head injuries, then questioned for five hours. The police chief said that Christian was released because there was no evidence to refute Christian's claim of having acted in self-defense, and that under Indiana's Stand Your Ground statute, the police were prohibited by law from making an arrest. The police chief also said that Christian had had a right to defend herself with lethal force. Passalt took Christan and Ray (suffering a sprained ankle in the altercation) to Marion General Hospital.
Christian posted on the site's Facebook page regarding the shooting:
Dan and I are extremely heartbroken to learn about the tragic event that occurred on the night of October 21, 2014 and so very saddened to learn the news about Khayla Chow. My sympathy goes to Charlene and Kristina Chow, of whom I had met on two occasions when the Denver Broncos were playing the Houston Oilers or Houston Texans. I'm sure that to Khayla's family, she was a loving, caring person, but that is not what I saw that night. I saw a racist, narcissistic bigot who did not have any regard for the Vote for the Girls moderators. On behalf of Vote for the Girls USA - Official, our hearts go out to their families.—Kym Christian
Legal Charges in the Kym Christian shooting incident
|Moderator||Suspension by VFTG||Fine(s) paid|
|Christian, KymKym Christian*||indefinite leave of absence, returned December 1, 2014||$10,000|
|Ray, KendraKendra Ray*||indefinite leave of absence, returned November 16, 2014||$10,000|
|* indicate moderators who face legal consequences; they all received similar sentences (preliminary):
As news of the case spread, thousands of protestors across in Colorado, Texas, and Indiana called for Christian's arrest and a full investigation. Christain was charged with involuntary manslaughter by a special prosecutor appointed by Governor Mike Pence on October 24, 2014. The following day, Ray was arrested and charged with assisting a criminal on October 25, 2014 by Grant County authorities, despite despite her efforts to stop Chow and Glassering during the assault. According to Indiana law, Kendra Ray could face 2 years in prison for the charges of assisting a criminal, which is a Level 6 felony in Indiana.
On November 24, 2014 it was confirmed that Ava Zinn had successfully auctioned off her virginity for a long term relationship and was reported that Kym Christian and Ava Zinn had been in a sexual relationship when Christian travelled to NoSirGifts' offices on two occasions in November 2010 and in May 2014, which Zinn revealed in Kym's criminal trial after Christian was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Khayla Chow. After three hours of deliberations on November 28, 2014, the seven man five woman jury rendered a not guilty verdict on all counts. Kym Christian, following her acquittal, revealed that she will be returning and joined by her new girlfriend, Zinn, become a duo moderator (the first time on Vote for the Girls a duo moderator has served on the panel).
2015 Aeverine Zinn Holdings Facility Renovation Conflict
On February 26, 2015, it was revealed that renovations would start at the Marion AZH YTOC on March 16, 2015 and Zinn began to realize a major schedule conflict as the web site's spring cycle of the sixth season was still in progress. The following morning, Zinn alerted the moderator panels of the United States, United Kingdom, and Australian versions, and they agreed the renovations in fact creating a schedule conflict as the twentieth season premiere clashed with the start of the renovations while the UK adaptation had only four weeks to go in the site's second series.
Zinn and Everman supported requesting to delay the renovations after May 20, 2015, but given approval from the facility's landlady, her permission was required. Zinn agreed to call syndicate NoSirGifts head, Jack Steele, and that he would then find a reasonable solution that would favor Zinn. Steele agreed that the end of the competitions should be run, and Steele, Alvaraz, Everman, and Zinn began trying to reach the facility's landlady. Zinn and Alvaraz were successful, and, along with Steele asked for a reasonable solution that would keep Vote for the Girls on schedule and without interruption .
Zinn, watching the calendar nervously, attempted to find a favorable solution, only to find no such solution as Zinn could not find a temporary neutral site for the production of Vote for the Girls. She waited as long as she could, then made one final, unsuccessful attempt. Zinn even threatened to use lethal force if the situation wasn't resolved in Zinn's favor.
Beginning about March 2, 2015, many members of the public began calling NoSirGifts Venues and AZH switchboards. Some demanded the spring cycle be shown to conclusion; others wanted to know if the VFTG would still be in production during renovations and Zinn staying on schedule. AZH protocol required an operations order from Steele, to countermand the midweek written orders, but Zinn received no notice from the increasingly desperate Steele, who was frustrated by the renovation issues. Without such an order, and not knowing of Steele's approval, Zinn made the decision that production of Vote for the Girls would remain on schedule.
According to Zinn, as the conflict continued into 2015, 2014 was the first year that Vote for the Girls has actually lost money, which she contended has damaged the U.S. franchise. Zinn's larger staff, higher production costs and higher salary would have by all accounts made Vote for the Girls more costly. Critics challenged this accusation, concluding that in order for AZH to receive such figures, they must have folded into the cost of erecting the new studio/offices, alongside startup costs.
By October 2014, it was reported that as part of potential shifts in Vote for the Girls' operation, Zinn had intermittently been in talks with several sponsors regarding its future productions; one possibility included canceling Vote for the Girls after the sixth season because of low ratings and high costs, the latter of which were revealed to be due to a poorly negotiated agreements a few years earlier and a lack of promotion.
With the site's unexpected moves, came some changes. The site's already-low budget was significantly trimmed, forcing cuts in the salaries of the moderators and dropping the Opening Rounds (beginning with Rising Star 2), Quarter-Finals (The Voice 7 Battles), and Semi-Finals (beginning with The Voice 7 Knockouts and American Idol 14 Rush Week).
Also, after airing separate episodes (usually lasting for 15 to 20 minutes), Zinn combined many episodes as a one episode per week (adding to the production and time constraints already noted in this article). The combined episodes was attributed to mediocre ratings after Christina Grimmie's third place finish on the sixth season of The Voice and Valerie Rockey's defeat on the eleventh season of So You Think You Can Dance. While the additions of Dancing with the Stars (which is shown on the YouTube channel on Wednesdays as opposed to 24 hours after the results shows), Vote for the Girls did improve in numbers over the the site's YouTube channel, the site never quite hit its YouTube momentum from 2011 again, yet the site alone saw some increases as high as 200% in September 2014 over the previous year, especially in the Denver market.
Reaction and aftermath
The April 10, 2014 brawl marked the first time in the site's history that conflict with the male contestants prevented Zinn from completing the site's season. The actions of Khayla Chow and Holly Everman received as much negative attention in social media as Ava Zinn announcing she was auctioning off her virginity to the highest female bidder on April 18, 2014.
A follow-up episode, titled "Vote for the Girls: Ava's Virginity Auction", aired as the season 6 season premiere on July 11, 2014. The episode featured Zinn's decision to auction off her virginity auction and the consequent Punishement for Failure that followed with Zinn and Kathi Jameson wearing strapless tops while Kellie Rock and Holly Everman binding their breasts with Rock appearing as a Breast Cancer survivor if she had a double mastectomy and Everman (after shaving her traditionally long hair) appearing as a female-to-male transgender individual . Some said that Christina and Jena deserved to win and others, notably news anchors Scott Swan and Andrea Moorehead of Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR (13 NBC) criticized the Punishment for Failure while Ray Cortopassi of Indianapolis Fox affiliate WXIN (Fox 59) praised VFTG moderators of supporting Beards for Breast Cancer by not shaving their legs in October and November 2014. Other friends and fans of Zinn and Everman announced that they would rather unfriend Zinn and Everman on Facebook as they were just as outraged of the punishment for failure. Two long-time friends of Ava Zinn, Alec Dailey and Cortney George, commented in a Facebook post by Zinn that they were outraged and disappointed with the punishment for failure and believed that Zinn could have made a better resolution besides the virginity auction or what some of Everman's friends speculating that Zinn would become a "lesbian whore" and prostitute.
Another controversial punishment for failure was Holly Everman's biking from Indianpolis to the Van Buren Popcorn Festival and Zinn's biking from Marion to Concannon's Bakery in Muncie, Indiana (as well as Zinn going to a local Aldi, Dollar Tree, Walmart, Meijer, Speedway, and a Dollar General in Gaston, Indiana--the former of the six Ava Zinn said replaced an Aldi in Marion following an January 2013 incident.) Zinn however, did praise Everman for recommending Concannon's while others resent Zinn for "playing hardball" with stores in Marion, Indiana. This punishment would later prove to play a key role in Ava Zinn's relocation from Marion, Indiana.
Criticism of Zinn
As expected, Zinn faced heated criticism and increasing negative publicity for not only her perceived role in the conflict but also the Vote for the Girls franchise, with some critics predicting that her reputation—along with those of Holly Everman and eventually fans of Ava Zinn and Vote for the Girls as a whole—had been permanently damaged by the incident--notably the Punishment for Failure following the site's loss declaration after the defeats of VFTG picks of Christina Grimmie, Jena Irene, Dana Williams, Audrey Kate Geiger, Emily West, AcroArmy, and Valerie Rockey. Critics pointed to the 2012 Vote for the Girls clip of Bridget Carrington's defeat on Duets, wherein Zinn took losses very hard and in the 15 minute clips swore 90 times. Zinn's longtime acquaintances Jennifer Morris and Heidi Turner were among the first to openly voice disappointment with Zinn and decided rather than work things out with Zinn, chose to unfriend Zinn on Facebook saying, "People who don't like Ava Zinn now, and I'm one of them, we're not like, 'Ava Zinn sucks;' or 'Ava Zinn has changed in a bad way.' WXIN morning news anchor Ray Cortopassi has been among Vote for the Girls most vocal and vehement supporters with the site's Leg Beard Punishment, while others calling Zinn a "sexist bully" and her recent actions "classless and kind of career-defining." Dave Della Terza and Lawrence Hedrick were, and to this day, continues to be harsh critics of Zinn before and following the conflict; Hedrick (as admin of Vote Against The Producers) posted on Vote for the Girls' Facebook page on occasion.
Patrice Rafferty, Zinn and Everman's apprentice, told a WMRI-FTV reporter , "The thing Ava and Holly should do is walk, period. They've got everything to lose in terms of public popularity by going back. People will look at them differently. They'll be viewed as the bad girls." Jillian Gates at WTOR was one of the more adamant critics of Zinn and Everman's handling of the conflict. She noted that, "I went through my own version of this, 17, 18 years ago,", wherein she pleaded for viewers not to "blame Holly," with Gates noting, "In the thousands and thousands of words that have been printed about this mess, who has blamed Holly Everman?"
Leonard Lai, a transman that was colleagues with Kellie Rock at WVTH-FDT prior to Rock joining the moderator panel, closed out the station's midday newscast with "It’s good to be here on NBC 25. You know what NBC 25's call sign (WVTH) stands for? Women's Vaginas Taunting Holly & Frank (referencing Zinn's previous name prior to her transition) The Villians." He also referenced the brawl, noting how Josh Kaufman participated in the "destruction" of Vote for the Girls. Rock then called Lai the next morning to discuss the criticism, and at the end of the call, Rock suggested he come over and appear on Vote for the Girls. Lai was upfront with wanting to discuss the fiasco at hand, and upon his appearance (which was unaired), attempted to steer the questions that way: when asked about her role on Vote for the Girls, Rock responded, "I think the best part about Vote for the Girls was the fact my husband realized he was becoming a woman like when you transitioned from Stephanie to Leonard and of course Ava Zinn. She's the reason Vote for the Girls is what made her one of the best transwomen in Indiana." Rock ascribed it as Lai attempting to score some publicity, but producers and management at WVTH found Lai's comments offensive and degrading. Lai was fired from WVTH in August 2014 after two years.
To prevent similar occurrences happening in future competitions, Ava Zinn added two make-up competitions to add to So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars, was initiated at the start of the site's sixth season. Zinn changed the regular and make-up competitions to allow moderators to veto a Vote for the Girls loss before the finale of each competition, which is currently used on the Swedish and Italian version of Vote for the Girls. On September 3, 2014, Valerie Rockey became the first recipient of the "Moderator's Save," which allowed the site to declare their first victory of 2014 even though Ricky Ubela won the 11th season of So You Think You Can Dance, Zinn stated, "Had the moderators not voted unanimously before the SYTYCD 11 finale, Vote for the Girls would have suffered its fourth consecutive loss as well as the first loss on SYTYCD." "I can't remember when we've done anything like this before," stated Julia Passalt. "It's very unusual in that situation."
Zinn stated in one interview , "I wonder if this VFTG Brawl will ever die ...maybe now that it's past a year or so people will stop asking me about it." There is currently speculation that Valerie Rockey, the runner-up of So You Think You Can Dance, pretty much saved Vote for the Girls from cancellation.
The defeats of Christina Grimmie and Jena Irene, did not sit well with the other Vote for the Girls moderators as well as long-time friends of Ava Zinn and Holly Everman over the outcome of the competition, for reasons having nothing to do with the lopsidedness of the competitions, of which Zinn faced criticism for Vote for the Girls supporting Christina Grimmie over Josh Kaufman--most notably were Scott Swan and Andrea Moorehead of Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR (channel 13).
Fans of Christina Grimmie learned of the competition problems after learning about an iTunes glitch that some on Twitter have posted "#GrimmieShouldHaveWon or #GrimmieWasRobbed"
Events after the April 2014 brawl, October 2014 shooting and conflict
On October 4, 2014, Ava Zinn began to impose new security guidelines for all Aeverine Zinn Holdings offline venues, including Vote for the Girls. The new policies included a size limit of 24 US fl oz (710 ml)Template:Convert/track/abbr/onTemplate:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/ for alcohol purchases and a hard cap of three alcoholic beverages for any individual, as well as a ban of alcohol 15 minutes before the performance and result shows air (usually 7:45 PM Eastern). They also later ordered that each moderator arrive at 4:00 PM Eastern and each AZH venue put at least two security guards between the moderators and the audience. Zinn also ordered all non-VFTG related matters (particularly appointments with Zinn) end no later than 3:00 PM Eastern and start no earlier than 11:00 AM Eastern Monday through Thursday, in addition to no appointments on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday when that policy went into effect on July 4, 2014 in accordance to Zinn's 2-5-10-Banned for Life Rule.
On October 11, 2014, production of the UK version of Vote for the Girls was interrupted a series of death threats were aimed at the Ava Zinn, but production eventually resumed after 30 minutes.
After their terminations, Khayla Chow and Kathi Jameson joined the moderator panel of the Australian version of Vote for the Girls. But after being on the panel for only a week, Chow demanded to be traded.
Zinn said that Chow's demands were "the last straw", and many Vote for the Girls USA moderators who had fought in the brawl to help their fellow moderators felt betrayed. (Rock later said, "I put my career, left the TV news industry, every fucking thing on the line for her, going into the audience ... I lost $20,000 [but] Goddamn it there was no 'thank you' or nothing."
Khayla Chow would never face Holly Everman for the first time after the fight because on September 26, 2014, a week after Chow's termination Chow drove to the Vote for the Girls set with an accomplice, later identified as her friend Victoria Glassering, crashed into a parked car that startled Vote for the Girls moderator Tracia Ward, and tried to enter front doors of the Vote for the Girls set at around 1:35 p.m. and was turned away. Chow then told Zinn she would "be back." Chow was fatally shot by Kym Christian on October 21, 2014.
After the defeats of Grimmie and Asciutto, the site was in the midst of a five competition losing streak (not counting the Moderator's Save on Valerie Rockey) making 2014 the longest losing streak in the site's history. Many long-time friends of Ava Zinn and Holly Everman believe that the brawl and its consequences ruined a potential undefeated season, with Chow and Jameson as the respective primary and secondary causes. Ava Zinn is constantly considering making changes to all Aeverine Zinn Holdings owned ventures, including Vote for the Girls, in an effort to rebuild by obtaining "character girls" as moderators and make it less sexist (yet they will still have a primary bias against males) while opponents calling to see Vote for the Girls canceled or shut down. Zinn has stated that, "Even if someone offered me $100 TRILLION, I am not shutting down Vote for the Girls for any reason whatsoever. The only way Vote for the Girls will shut down or close is only my death, which won't be happening."
After serving her suspension for most of the fall cycle of sixth season, Holly Everman returned returned to the moderator panel on November 3, 2014.
As of September 2016, only Holly Everman is still with her moderator team. Kathi Jameson went to the Australian adaptation and has since returned after marrying Karly Ryder, Jr.. Kellie Rock and Khayla Chow have since died. Rock committed suicide on April 19, 2016.
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- [?? ??]. ? (??). Retrieved on ??.
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- CBS 41 Action News (WTOR) clip: Will Ava Zinn Do The Right Thing?".