Byline: Robyn-Denise Yourse and Christian Toto, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Brian Dunkleman is finally asking himself the question everyone was asking four years ago - "Why did I quit 'American Idol?' "
Mr. Dunkleman can't help but wonder if he might have been a star on the rise, just like Ryan Seacrest, if he hadn't quit as the Fox show's co-host after its first season, Associated Press reports.
"I wanted to be a performer, not someone who introduced other performers," Mr. Dunkleman tells "Inside Edition" in an interview that aired Wednesday. So he walked away from the hit reality show after its debut season in 2002.
Since then, Mr. Seacrest has become a practically ubiquitous hosting presence, including sharing top billing with New Year's icon Dick Clark on this year's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" show.
Mr. Dunkleman has gone on to appear in a handful of TV shows such as "NYPD Blue" and "Miss Match" and to appear regularly at Los Angeles comedy clubs.
"I do stand-up every week in L.A. at the Laugh Factory and the Improv," he says.
He also wonders about what might have been.
"It was my decision," he says. "I'm not saying it was a good decision because, obviously, with the success of the show, it's a difficult decision to think back on and think I did the right thing."
He adds that the nature of the show helped spur his decision.
"I quite honestly had a very difficult time with how cruel the show was. It really affected me," he says.
Some might say fate has been even crueler to him.
Gill's new gig
It's only natural to pair country crooner Vince Gill with the Grand Ole Opry, but his newest gig gives a wrinkle to that combination.
The singer is expected to host a new television special next month dubbed "The Grand Ole Opry at Carnegie Hall," AP reports.
The two-hour show March 12 on the Great American Country cable network will feature performances by Mr. Gill, Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss, Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Trace Adkins and others.
It captures a Grand Ole Opry show presented at New York's Carnegie Hall in November - the first time the radio program had visited the hall in 44 years. …