One of the promises of TV talent shows is that they can lift normal people out of normal jobs and make them superstars.
For Brain Dunkelman, who made $17,000 a week when he co-hosted (with Ryan Seacreast) the first season of American Idol, that promise has been turned on its head.
For Dunkelman, who quit the show after his first season in 2002, is now making a living as an Uber driver, pulling in around $800 for a 45-hour week.
His radical career change came to light after TMZ published financial documents he submitted as part of his divorce with Kalea Dunkleman in which he lists his occupation as “Uber driver,” a gig he says he has been working at since March 2016.
Dunkleman says he has $2,000 in his checking account, says he pays $1,500 in rent per month and has expenses totalling $1,605. His 5-year-old son, Jackson, lives with him half the week.
His divorce has been dragging on for more than two years and has seen bitter claims and counter claims. He claimed Kalea was an out-of-control alcoholic who was a danger to their son. Brian also claimed she physically abused him. She claimed Brian was physically abusive toward her and called her a “useless bitch,” TMZ says.
In a 2016 column for Variety, Dunkleman wrote of his time at the show, “Did I quit? Did I get fired? All these years later, I still don’t know for sure.
“I probably beat them to the punch. I wanted to have an acting career, and I knew that leaving when I did would give me the best shot of accomplishing that... Do I regret not remaining on the show? Yes. Especially when I open my bank statements.”