Imagine, for a moment, that you’re Brian Dunkleman. Fifteen years ago, you land a dream gig as co-host of a promising show called “American Idol,” but as the contestants square off against one another, you’re ostensibly competing as well — against your “co-host,” an impossibly-tanned and frost-tipped Dick Clark for his generation named Ryan Seacrest.
Practically overnight, you are stripped of your microphone and forced to watch from the sidelines as “Idol” becomes the defining show of television’s next decade. News reports say that you “quit,” but many believe that you did so because you were about be fired — either way, clearly something went down behind the scenes.
Suddenly, you’re the Wally Pipp of reality TV. Like Pipp, your last name doesn’t help matters, seemingly delivering an exclamation point for every joke at your expense.
Now, as “Idol” is in its final moments, comes news that the long-running show is ready to make amends with Dunkleman. But before that happens, here are five famous parties who need to start penning their own hand-written notes of apology.
When Seacrest took the national stage in Season 1, it was like the first time you saw one of those traffic light cameras: Not everyone is gonna like it, but the reason for its existence makes sense, so you’d better just suck it up and embrace the future.
In 2008, Dunkleman admitted that he has at times harbored resentment towards his former co-host. Meanwhile, Seacrest has literally made tens of millions of dollars sometimes mocking his old co-host, while Dunkleman has appeared in indie films and cameos alongside Erik Estrada.
Come on Ryan, how many TV and radio shows are you hosting these days? Can’t you throw Dunkleman a little love? His return to “Idol” seems like the perfect opportunity for Seacrest to once again go “Out!” … of his way to help the old co-host.
In 2011, Behar referred to “The tragic story of Brian Dunkleman” on her HLN show, having the comedian on as a guest while simultaneously mocking him. “What were you thinking?” she asked him. But Dunkleman stuck up for his decision, joking that in England, Pete Best is known as “The Brian Dunkleman of the Beatles.” Still, it seems like Behar was more mean-spirited than eager to understand the man.
In 2007, the network aired an episode of its cartoon “Drawn Together” entitled “Dunkleman Takes Over.” The show had Dunkleman hosting a cartoon reality show and providing the seemingly-real fact that he had declined to provide his own voice. “What kind of name is Seacrest? Now Dunkleman, there’s a name,” he zones out in an internal dialogue. “I deserve to get fired!” They didn’t exactly draw the guy in a very flattering way, either.
Just last year on “Watch What Happens Live,” Cohen took the opportunity to kick Dunkleman while he’s down. “Kelly easily withstood the pressure-cooker that was ‘American Idol,’ before Ryan Seacrest had co-host Brian Dunkleman killed,” he joked. Cohen is certainly known for saying outrageous things, but a Dunkleman gag in 2015? That’s like doing a knock-knock joke.
In 2012, the T-shirt clad icon appeared on Conan O’Brien’s talk show. After the host jokingly thanked him for unleashing Ryan Seacrest on the world, Cowell took the opportunity to get a jab in at the Season 1 co-host. “I know,” he responded jokingly. “And the whole plan was to launch Brian Dunkleman!”