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Subway Drummer Sues MTV Over Nicki Minaj Documentary

Jason LaVeris, Getty Images

A 26-year-old street performer is suing MTV and Viacom for using his image in a documentary chronicling the life and rise of rapper Nicki Minaj.

Michael Savely, who is known by his performance name “Mike Alaska,” filed a suit in a New Jersey Federal Court Tuesday (March 30), accusing the network and its parent company of violating his privacy and tarnishing his image by featuring him in the documentary ‘Nicki Minaj: My Time Now.’

Savely appeared in the opening scene of the documentary, and was shot on a subway platform, which is open to the public. He had reservations about being shown, fearing that the footage would “misrepresent his connection with other artists whose style conflict with the one that he has developed.” The street drummer alleges that despite his unwillingness to sign a waiver allowing MTV to show his face in November 2010, he still popped up on the documentary when it aired one month later.

The musician, who teaches drumming to students, said that his image was put in jeopardy because of his appearance. According to the lawsuit, Savely describes his image as “modern” and “conservative,” a sharp contrast to what he feels Minaj represents by way of her provocative style of dress, use of profanity and glorification of a “specific lifestyle.” Savely also stated that his T-shirt sales and teaching jobs have dried up since his image was used on the show.

Minaj’s documentary aired on the network at the end of November, less than a week after her debut album, ‘My Pink Friday,’ hit stores. In the piece, Minaj, who is known for playing different characters, showcased a different side of her personality in the doc, opening up about moving to America from Trinidad as a child, and how her success has allowed her to provide for her family.


Watch Nicki Minaj’s ‘Right Thru Me’
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