American Idol hopeful Ian Benardo didn’t make it past the auditions in 2006, but at May’s season finale, where he stormed the stage during Dane Cook’s live performance, he finally got a chance to be up there in the winner’s circle, flaming and all. Except Bernardo says it was all Idol producers’ idea — and now he’s suing them for exploiting his sexuality.
He wants $300 million. Ahem.
Calling it “a Kanye West moment”, Benardo began to hurl abuse at exiting American Idol judge Simon Cowell, insisting he was going to replace the music mogul on the program because, “I’m more entertaining than you.” But in new legal papers filed with the New York State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday, Benardo claims he was put up to the stunt by Idol executives who invited him back for this year’s final and asked him to be “outrageous” and “gay”.
The documents state that producers had previously “exploited… my sexual orientation” when he auditioned for the contest, by ordering him to “gay it up”.
Benardo insists he was given similar orders when he returned in May. He goes on to accuse Cook of threatening him after the incident, claiming Idol bosses warned him he was “not safe” and advised him to leave the Nokia Theatre immediately.
Bernado’s shining moment from the finale — where, I’m assuming, the real emotional damage was delivered — comes at the end.