RALEIGH, N.C. — Clay Aiken, who ran against Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers for a congressional bid in 2014, is the centerpiece of a new documentary set to premiere on Esquire Network in April.
“The Runner-Up” tells the inside story of his campaign as a gay Democrat from the South. It was executive produced by Jonathan and Simon Chinn and Mitchell Tanen for Lightbox.
Esquire said that it was an exclusive, all-access look at one of the most unique political campaigns of the 2014 mid-term elections — the improbable congressional run of the “American Idol” star, highlighting the perspective of someone who was new to the campaign scene and the challenges he encountered. Taking him as a serious contender and not “simply a reality TV star” topped Aiken’s struggles.
Chinn told the Television Critics Association during its recent tour that it was done with a small crew, usually three people with a single camera and “unfettered access,” Broadcasting & Cable reported. He also added, “Clay Aiken the candidate is probably somebody 99% of the public has not seen. I think you see a different side of Clay.”
The publication also shared that Aiken, who was present for the panel, learned considerably from the experience. He felt that he would not change a thing about how the campaign was run. He stuck to the issues, ran an honest race and stayed true to himself.
“A few days before ‘American Idol’ runner-up Clay Aiken lost the November election, Bill Maher slammed the singer’s North Carolina congressional campaign because the openly gay candidate said that gay marriage ‘isn’t an issue that is really on the radar’ for his constituents,” Deadline Hollywood reported.
The issue surfaced during the TCA tour, nonetheless. Deadline Hollywood also reported that Aiken defended his campaign and never “distanced” himself from “the gay marriage issue.” He said he had been vocal about LGBT issues since he came out.
Chinn indicated that Aiken’s “celebrity” and “an openly gay candidate in the South” were “a couple of the myriad reasons this was a fascinating race.”
As to whether he has plans for being involved in the political arena again, he said, “I don’t think what I tried to do I am finished being able to do. I’m not sure what the path is any more than I did on Nov. 5.”
Deadline Hollywood also reported that “Aiken said he spoke to Rosie O’Donnell, who encouraged him to use his celebrity while he has it. … ‘Listen, we are all waiting for obscurity.’”
Aiken said he’d “like to find a way to focus on veterans issues and homelessness in North Carolina.”
TCA represents more than 200 professional journalists who cover television for publications across the U.S. and Canada. Their annual awards bestow honors on shows and personalities in an assortment of categories including those from the LGBT community and productions. : :
info: tvcritics.org. tv.esquire.com.