Before he was tapped as Ryan Seacrest's second banana on American Idol, Brian Dunkleman was just another struggling actor waiting for Hollywood to hand him his big break. In other words, the 30-year-old doesn't need Simon Cowell to tell him how nasty and dehumanizing the entertainment biz can be.

"Three months ago, I went to a commercial audition for a fast food chain — let's just say it rhymes with 'Surger Ding,'" he recalls TV Guide Online. "There was a sign saying, 'Everyone will be clucking like a chicken.' And there were other actors actually practicing. I looked at them and thought, 'Do any of you people have souls?'"

Dunkleman made a beeline for the exit and never looked back. Nowadays, he's too busy to let casting directors humiliate him. "I have no time to go on any auditions," he says. "I'm actually turning stuff down now, which is fantastic! I did stand-up the other night, and I had a couple of calls to my manager wanting me to come in [to test] for series regular roles.

"It was very, very nice," he adds, "considering that [last] pilot season I had about 10 auditions and I didn't get one call back."

So, is Dunkleman prepared to concede that a certain ruthless judge was right when he warned Idol contestants about the dark side of showbiz? "If you listen to what Simon's saying, he never says something that's not true," he points out. "But me personally, I have a very hard time hearing some of his harshness, because they're just kids. And facing rejection anytime is really difficult, especially when somebody just rails you like that."