What “REALLY” happened to American Idol’s Brian Dunkleman

Former ‘American Idol’ co-host Brian Dunkleman “breaks his silence”

By Steve Rogers, 02/22/2006

Although his lack of television interviews since he left American Idol probably had more to do with a lack of interest from television producers than a self-imposed vow of silence, former Idol Brian Dunkleman has finally done a television interview in which he “broke his silence” about why he “walked away” from the smash-hit reality show after its first season.

“The truth is I really left the show to pursue an acting career. I wanted to be a performer and not someone who introduces other performers. It was my decision,” Dunkleman, told Inside Edition in his first television interview since he left American Idol.

After Idol’s initial Summer 2002 season ended, Dunkleman, who had co-hosted the show’s first season with now solo Idol host Ryan Seacrest, announced that, in a David Caruso-like career move, he had “decided not to return for Season Two in order to pursue other opportunities in the world of TV and feature films.”

At the time, media outlets had already reported that although they weren’t necessarily opposed to it, Fox executives (who had had already re-signed Seacrest a few weeks earlier) had been largely indifferent to the prospect of Dunkleman’s return. Four American Idol seasons later, Dunkleman now acknowledges his “decision” was probably a mistake.

“I’m not saying it was a good decision because, obviously with the success of the show, it’s a difficult decision to think back on and think I did the right thing,” Dunkleman, who currently works as a standup comedian and lives in a modest Los Angeles apartment, told Inside Edition. “To see that it’s going to run for the next 30 years, obviously it’s really tough not to second guess but I’m actually watching the show for the first time since Season Two.”

Dunkleman says he deliberately stayed out of the spotlight after leaving American Idol. “I traveled for about six months,” he said. “Then I joined an acting studio here in LA and I studied for about a year and a half with one of the top acting coaches.”

“I [currently] do standup every week in LA at the Laugh Factory and the Improv,” the one-time Idol host added.

However, so far those acting lessons haven’t translated into much success, with Dunkleman only scoring roles in four failed sitcom pilots and guest-starring roles in a handful of television shows.

According to Dunkleman, he one of the reasons he left the show was its “cruelty.” “I agonized over it, really, but I quite honestly had a very difficult time with how cruel the show was. It really affected me.”

But with bills to pay, Dunkleman has now managed to reconcile his feelings enough to “host” a new American Idol online fantasy game. “I was asked, and they said ‘Hey, we’ll pay you to do it,’” recently told New York Newsday regarding why he had agreed to write a blog about the show.

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