‘American Idol’: Here’s What Happened to Brian Dunkleman After He Quit the Show

by Samantha Whidden

Nearly 20 years after he officially gave up his hosting duties on “American Idol,” here is what Brian Dunkleman has been up to over the years. 

According to The List, things for Brian Dunkleman originally started out well after his stint as an “American Idol” host. He went on to make appearances on “Ghost Whisperer,” “Two Guys and a Girl,” and “NYPD Blue”. He also won the sixth season of “Celebrity Fit Club” and became a standup comedian.

However, things took a turn for Brian Dunkleman in 2016 when he and his wife Kalea filed for separation. People reported at the time, Dunkleman had accused his then-wife of being an alcoholic and a danger to their son, Jackson. In return, Kalea accused Dunklamn of being emotional and physically abusive. During the ugly divorce proceedings, Dunkleman ended up working as an Uber driver. 

Dunkleman spoke about becoming an Uber driver on Twitter. “I chose to stop doing standup comedy and started driving an Uber so I could be there for my son as much he needed after our life as we knew it was destroyed.”

Fortunately, three years after the drama unfolded between him and Kalea, Dunkleman was able to get back into hosting shows. He even hosted “Family Feud Live: Celebrity Edition.”

He also set up a Patreon to help launch his stand-up comedy career. On his Patreon website, Dunkleman revealed that he is nonworking on new material and making his way back on stage. “I’m happy to report that not only is my son ok, he is thriving. I’ve recently started getting onstage again to build a new act which I hope to bring to a city near you soon.”

Brian Dunkleman Says His Decision to Leave ‘American Idol’ Haunted Him For Years

Earlier this month, Brian Dunkleman spoke on “TMZ Live” about how he was in a dark place after leaving “American Idol” in 2002. He also said his decision to depart from the long-running show has haunted him for years.. 

“I was crippled with depression,” Brian Dunkleman explained. “I thought I made the biggest mistake anybody’s ever made in history.”

Brian Dunkleman then said that after leaving “American Idol,” he couldn’t get out of bed. “I like to say I wasn’t really suicidal but I was suicidal adjacent,” he explained. “I was drinking and doing drugs and doing everything I could to get out of my own head.”

Meanwhile, Brian Dunkleman said that upon returning to “American Idol” as a co-host in the series finale, one of his former bosses revealed that they were planning to fire him for season 2 regardless. The news actually made him feel like he had a huge weight lifting off his shoulders. 

In time, Dunkleman quit abusing substances and start doing stand-up comedy and improv. He also released a new documentary about his experience. “I finally closed the chapter on the healing that I needed to do and letting go of the resentment and anger,” he said about the documentary. “This film has finally set me free.”