If you watched this year’s “American Idol” finale, you’ll likely remember the moment when it seemed like things had gone completely off the rails. Comedian Dane Cook was singing a jokey homage to departing judge Simon Cowell when all of a sudden a parade of some of the legendary “Idol” misfits tumbled onto the stage in what has become a time-honored tradition on the final show of every season.
Only this time, reject Ian Benardo took things too far, mic-jacking a surprised-looking Cook and spewing off a string of incomprehensible Cowell-baiting, self-promoting blather before producers quickly cut to commercial.
Well, Benardo, not content to be shut down, has reportedly filed a $300 million lawsuit against the show, claiming that he was threatened by Cook and that producers caused him emotional distress and loss of employment opportunities through their handling of the situation.
According to TMZ, Benardo filed a suit with the New York State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which he claims that Cook personally threatened him after the show and that an unnamed “Idol” producer told Benardo that the comedian wanted to “shove this mic up your ass but you would like it.”
And while he was upset with the alleged harsh treatment he suffered during the finale, Benardo claims in the suit that the conflict started in 2006 when he first auditioned for “Idol.” At that time, Benardo claims that producers “exploited … my sexual orientation” by instructing the outrageous “So You Think You Can Dance” wannabe to “gay it up.”
When he was invited back for this year’s finale, Benardo says that producers gave him similar instructions to act “outrageous” and “gay,” which inspired him to snatch the mic from Cook. The comedian was none too pleased with Benardo’s move, calling him out on Twitter by writing, “If you missed it I got Kanye’d on ’American Idol.’ Wild … Luckily at the end of the song … that was not staged. Weirdo hijacked the song. Just glad he didn’t hit me in the face with the mic or ’American Idol’ would be ’American Beatdown … Weirdo = f—face.”
Though Cook kept his cool onstage, in the suit, Benardo claims that the comedian and his manager were angry about the incident and that “Idol” producers warned Benardo that he should exit the building right away because he was “not safe.”
Benardo says he’s suffered emotional injuries and loss of employment opportunities as a result and is seeking $300 million in restitution.
Fox, the network that airs “American Idol,” had no comment. A spokesperson for Dane Cook could not be reached for comment at press time.