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American Idol

American Idol Contestant Claims He was Told to “Gay It Up,” Files Lawsuit

During American Idol’s Milwaukee and Nashville auditions, we saw plenty of disgruntled performers who didn’t make the cut. There were weepers, cursers, and even a few who batted the camera out of their faces. But none of them have taken their Idol angst as far as Ian Benardo, who has just filed his third lawsuit against Idol.

Benardo unsuccessfully auditioned for the show in 2006 but immediately after being dismissed by judges, filed a lawsuit claiming that Idol “exploited his homosexuality.” Benardo claims show producers told him at one point in his audition to “gay it up.” The indignant performer originally filed for $300 million in damages, but lowered that amount to $100 million upon refiling. That suit was thrown out of court, and he has refiled asking for $5 million.

Benardo didn’t appear on-screen during the season he auditioned, but you still might recognize him from last season’s live finale. He was the guy who stormed on-stage and snatched the mic from comedian Dane Cook, delivering an angry tirade against Simon Cowell. Later, Benardo said he had been coached by show producers into performing the outburst.

Wow, we’re still shaking our heads over all this. Exploitation, lawsuits, staged confrontations… We don’t know what to believe! What do you think? Is Ian Benardo full of it, or does he have a legitimate complaint?


01.31.2011 / 11:48 PM EDT by David Connell
Related: American Idol, Gossip

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