'American Idol' Responds to Former Contestant's Lawsuit

Oct 7, 2010 - LegalZoom News Sources
'American Idol' Responds to Former ContestantÂ’s Lawsuit

Television show “American Idol” has responded to a lawsuit filed by a former contestant, warning him that he will be forced to pay the show’s legal costs if he continues with the suit, TMZ.com reports.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed by former contestant Ian Benardo in federal court in New York in August, producers for the show told Benardo to “gay it up,” then turned their backs on him when the strategy backfired.

Benardo, who stole the microphone from Dane Cook during the 2010 season finale, also claimed that Cook personally threatened him after the show. Benardo claims he stole the microphone in an attempt to comply with the producers’ requests that he act “outrageous,” and the former contestant said that the show was attempting to exploit his sexual orientation.

In the suit, Benardo was seeking $300 million, claiming he suffered emotional injuries and a loss of potential employment opportunities.

But “American Idol,” in a letter to Benardo reminding him that he had previously signed an agreement to release the show from any liability, said that the contract also stated that the former contestant would be responsible for paying the show’s legal fees if he lost in a lawsuit.

In response, Benardo told TMZ, “they want me to be quiet about this and I’m not going to back down just because they are a major TV show.”