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American "Idol' co-host returns - to Web

American Idol brings back first-season co-host Brian Dunkleman, for a free online fantasy game that launches today.

Newsday

It seems like some people have been waiting a lifetime for a moment like this: the reunion of Brian Dunkleman and American Idol.

Dunkleman, who co-hosted Idol with Ryan Seacrest in Season 1, won't actually be returning to Fox's megahit. Instead he'll host a free online fantasy game called Idol Go Home, which was scheduled to launch today at www.idolgohome.com, and have a blog, where, he says, "I'll be offering my own insider's backstage view" on everything Idol.

Visitors can blog their Idol thoughts as well as try to pick who will get voted off each week for a shot at prizes that include a trip to Hollywood, video iPods and Dell computers, he says.

Dunkleman, who says that he has been TiVoing this season's Idol, says he had a compelling reason for taking the job.

"I was asked, and they said, "Hey, we'll pay you to do it.' "

It also helps that Dunkleman has no beefs with Idol. He says it was his choice to leave after the first season to pursue an acting career and do standup comedy. He also has no gripes with Simon Cowell, whom he says is "one of the most charming, intelligent people you'll ever meet. Just ask him, and he'll tell you."

After Idol, Dunkleman says, "I played golf every day for about six months. I almost turned pro. Unfortunately, it turned out I was not very good."

Studies with an acting coach led to a role on NYPD Blue and four sitcom pilots.

"The fourth time's the charm," he says. "I also did a small indie film called Comedy Hell with Eric Roberts, which, like a lot of indies, is still in postproduction. So I'm hoping it will at least go straight to Beta."

Until then, Dunkleman fans can catch his act at Idol Go Home until May, when the season ends.

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