Idol Worship

'American Idol' Viral Stars Sanjaya, Crying Girl & More: Where Are They Now?

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Sanjaya on the American Idol red carpet in 2008.

The end is near for American Idol, which made proper stars out of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and the like. It also made viral stars of William Hung and Crying Girl -- long before the word "viral" even entered the lexicon.

Where are they now? We checked in on a few of the Fox show's most memorable characters:

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William Hung
Hung became a national sensation in 2004 thanks to a gloriously horrific Idol audition that brought his Ricky Martin moves to millions of living rooms. In the decade since, he's hung up his dancing shoes, retiring from music in 2011. Now a married man -- he got hitched to wife Jian in 2014 -- Hung is an administrative assistant for the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.

Sanjaya Malakar
The 18-year-old Washington native was season 6's most talked-about contestant, with his faux-hawk and considerable voter support from Howard Stern and Vote for the Worst. Malakar rocketed into the top 10 before his eventual elimination in seventh place. His swan song? Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About," changing the lyric "how about love" to "other than hair." Malakar won the hearts of not only Crying Girl (see below), but fans who dubbed themselves "Fanjayas." Following his Idol exit, Malakar was named best teen reality star at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards, then went on to host a show on the TV Guide Channel (Idol Stars: Where are they Now?), write an autobiography, star in a commercial in India and take fifth place in the reality show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here. In 2012, he was living a quieter life bartending in Manhattan, but Malakar says he has since moved back to Seattle and is working on new music with a band of "Northwest-sourced musicians. ... This is my first, fully original, full-length album, and I'm extremely pumped about it."

Corey Clark
The season 2 finalist was embroiled in scandal after an alleged inappropriate relationship with then-judge Paula Abdul. He is in the midst of a continuing discrimination lawsuit against the network and production company, production staff and sponsors of American Idol in New York along with nine other semifinalists throughout the years of the program. "The discrimination case is on petition as we speak with the Supreme Court of the United States," Clark says. In 2015, he was arrested for alleged felony violence, but the charges were dismissed. "No charges were filed against me and the case was dismissed for lack of merit and unsubstantiated claims made by my wife," he says. Clark is still singing, most recently in Mexico performing for tourists at various resorts. “I put the recording of my second album on hold briefly to do some touring throughout Mexico,” he says. “It's such a beautiful country."

Frenchie Davis
Unceremoniously disqualified during season 2 for posing for photos deemed too racy for the family show, diva Frenchie Davis went on to roles on Broadway (Rent) and even competed on The Voice, finishing in the top 8. “I make my living singing,” she says. “Singing has paid for my education and allowed me to see the world. It's been a great vehicle. I'm one of the lucky ones.” Her recent credits include the Syfy Channel boy band zombie apocalypse film Dead 7, which featured members of Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC and O-Town. She also worked as an associate producer for Howard Rosenman (producer of the film Sparkle), did voice-overs for The Wonder Pets, and was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 for best musical theater album for Ain't Misbehavin', along with Ruben Studdard and Trenyce Cobbins. As of last summer, Davis was in the midst of recording tracks for an EDM album "mixed with R&B, pop and soul." In the forthcoming months, she is booked with performances in Nashville and Louisville as well as a charity event in Los Angeles raising money for a local school. As if that isn’t enough, Davis is also going for her Ph.D.

Crying Girl
Ashley Ferl -- otherwise known as “Crying Girl," the 13-year old overcome with emotion and tears after watching her beloved Sanjaya high-swivel to The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” during season 6 -- is now 22 and a student at La Sierra University majoring in liberal studies. And yes, the Riverside, California, resident still watches Idol. “I watch if I’m not working or at school," she says. "If I miss an episode, I’m still tuned in to everything through friends and social media."

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.