Poor Justin Guarini. The runner-up to American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson hasn't had an easy time of it. Just think of the endless hair jokes. And the unflattering comparisons to Clay Aiken, that other AI runner-up who made good. Don't forget his box-office bomb, From Justin to Kelly, and the self-titled debut CD that flopped. Still, life's not so bad for Guarini.
Seriously, look on the bright side: He's not a barista at Starbucks yet. The 25-year-old says he's "amassed enough finances" that he doesn't have to work on stuff he's not interested in. Guarini hosted VH1's Top 20 Countdown in May and guest stars as himself in an upcoming episode of Fox's new nighttime soap, North Shore. "It was rather easy and fun," he says. "I played myself as a hotel guest. I got to say a few lines — the rest of the time was a vacation on the beach in Hawaii. And I got to spend time socializing with Brooke Burns. That's why I love television."
Guarini's also waiting to hear if he snagged the role of Che in Hal Prince's national touring company of Evita. "He's the lead guy," enthuses. "That was Antonio Banderas' part [on Broadway]." And if you think auditioning for the part made him nervous, you'd be mistaken. "If I can get through millions of people watching me every night and deciding my fate," he says, "I think I can get through this. American Idol was a little nerve-wracking, but the rest is just fun."
The CD's failure had to hurt though. He was dropped by record label RCA after Justin Guarini sold less than 200,000 copies. "That's just life," he shrugs. "Records take a long time to put together. The main problem with my last record is that we didn't take the time that it needed to really find the correct songs and to develop the correct steam. To be perfectly honest, I'm pursuing my dream elsewhere."
Yes, Guarini does plan to put out a second album. "I'm gonna get that off the ground about a year from now," he says. "I'm talking to a couple of labels and some songwriters. I'm thankful that people still care [about me] after two years. That really warms my heart."
To find out what more reality stars — like Survivor's Rupert, The Swan winner and Trista and Ryan — are doing, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide magazine, on sale Thursday.