The Word: ‘American Idol’ star Justin Guarini can barely feed his kids

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07:  Actor Justin Guarini attends the Drama League's 27th Annual All-Star Benefit gala at The Pierre Hotel on February 7, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 07: Actor Justin Guarini attends the Drama League’s 27th Annual All-Star Benefit gala at The Pierre Hotel on February 7, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

No matter how many times I hear that Hollywood is a brutal town, I can never quite believe it. Yes, I know that a lot of people have brushes with fame, only to fall back into obscurity. But on some level, I believe that once someone’s been famous, they’ll be basically okay for life – not rich, but that Hollywood affords them some sort of middle class stipend as a consolation prize. That turns out not to be true. Justin Guarini, runner-up in the first season of “American Idol,” is proof of that.

Justin Guarini briefly won America’s hearts with his floppy blond afro and his pretty voice in that very first season of “American Idol.” He lost out to Kelly Clarkson, who went on to become one of the few bona fide pop stars that “Idol” has produced. Guarini’s path has been rockier: He was dropped by his label after just a year, and he’s struggled to gain a foothold ever since.

In a raw post on his blog, Guarini reflects on how much his life has changed since his dizzying days of fame.

“There was a time when I wouldn’t have been concerned about the amazing expense of eating at place like Green Symphony,” he writes.

“Now, I budget. I have spent days skipping meals in order to make sure I have enough. To make sure my children, and my wife have enough.”

Guarini later said his post had been misinterpreted: He tweeted that his family is “nowhere near poverty.”



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