Brian Dunkleman Back

Ryan Seacrest exhibited some very loopy behavior on last Tuesday night’s “American Idol” episode–including a slow dance with a Michael Sarver look-alike and an awkward, innuendo-filled interview with Adam Lambert–but one of his odd antics that didn’t elicit any chuckles was an apparent nasty dig at his former “Idol” cohost, Brian Dunkleman. When Ryan joked that his ex-cohort would be emceeing the Pasadena Civic Auditorium portion of next week’s “Idol Gives Back” special, the audience actually applauded with glee…before Ryan admitted he was just kidding. And no one laughed.

I couldn’t help wondering…was Brian Dunkleman, whose career has stalled while Ryan’s has soared, watching? And if so, was he laughing? After all, when Brian appeared on VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club,” he confessed that quitting “Idol” (because he was upset about the way the contestants were treated) was the “worst career decision” of his life. He’s even working now on a mockumentary-style show based on his post-“Idol” life, which according to a press release “follows the fictional Dunkleman as he tries to work his way back to the television industry, embarrassing himself and disappointing his friends while constantly being reminded that he ‘could have been a millionaire.'”

So Ryan’s joke at Brian’s expense had to hurt. Right?

Well, not really. On Wednesday got hold of Brian to get the scoop, and Brian (who has actually made some unprintable jokes about Ryan in his standup routines) seemed in quite a good mood. “People are like, ‘Oh, it’s so mean-spirited,’ but I didn’t take it that way,” shrugged the affable Brian. “I think he was trying to make a joke, and instead of laughs there was a gasp and applause, which I’m sure mortified him. I imagine everything just went white in front of him.”

When asked if he expected Ryan to apologize, Brian amusingly quipped, “I don’t think that’s going to happen. But I do find it odd that after eight years he still thinks about me.”

Instead of being resentful, Brian saw Ryan’s remark as publicity for his still-in-production, still-being-shopped show. “The premise is: What if the biggest mistake you ever made in your life is brought up to you on a daily basis? So maybe Seacrest’s attempt at a joke could actually make it happen…It’s pretty awesome; I appreciate him giving me free press. Anything that he can do that leads to me working, I am completely in favor of.”

Personally, I was one of the people who were initially excited about the idea of Brian Dunkleman returning to “Idol,” and such thrilled responses from fans pleased Brian. “I’m flattered, if not touched, that people actually clapped. It’s a good feeling,” Brian told “And hey, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium is literally walking distance, so if they need me, I’m available.”

Let’s hope the folks at Fox read this and take heed. In the meantime, check out this hilarious trailer for Brian’s proposed show:

Posted in American Idol.

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