Clay Aiken's Campaign Show Producer Denies Congressional Run Was a Ruse for TV Cameras

Clay Aiken Reality Show Producer Denies Campaign Ruse - H 2014
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Clay Aiken Reality Show Producer Denies Campaign Ruse - H 2014

Producer Jonathan Chinn shoots down complaints by some donors who claim they were "duped"

This story first appeared in the Nov. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Clay Aiken's congressional bid may have ended in disappointment Nov. 4, but his campaign will live on. In early 2015, the Esquire Network will air a four-hour docuseries on the race — which ended with GOP incumbent Renee Ellmers' 18-point win — from Lightbox's Simon and Jonathan Chinn, who compare their series to such sober fare as The War Room and Mitt.

Read more  Complete Guide to TV Premiere Dates 2014

The project came together in February after Jonathan flew to Aiken's North Carolina campaign headquarters to court the American Idol alum, whom he found to be "intelligent, highly motivated and incredibly sincere." Aiken, 35, agreed to grant the duo full access, and Esquire came on board shortly after that. ("There was no 'deal' — he signed an appearance release," says Jonathan, who dismisses complaints from some donors now claiming to have been "duped" as "much ado about nothing.") 

The production kept as "low a profile as possible" until its Election Day announcement, hours after Aiken's concession speech. Recalls Jonathan, "It was a gloomy room."