Former contestant Ian Benardo, who failed to pass auditions when he tried out for the talent show in 2006, interrupted funnyman Dane Cook’s comedy skit when he ran on stage and grabbed the microphone from the actor at the Los Angeles event.
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 programme because, “I’m more entertaining than you.”
But in new legal papers filed with the New York State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday (26Jul10), Benardo claims he was put up to the stunt by Idol executives who invited him back for this year’s (10) 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 (10).
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.
According to TMZ.com, Benardo is now set to take the battle to court and is seeking damages for emotional injuries suffered and loss of employment opportunities as a result of the incident.
Representatives for both American Idol and Cook have yet to respond to the legal action.