Pasadena, Calif. — The Runner-Up, set to premiere on Esquire in April, follows Clay Aiken’s failed 2014 Congressional campaign in North Carolina. Speaking at a panel for the documentary at the TCA winter press tour Thursday, executive producer Jonathan Chinn said that people won’t see the Clay Aiken they remember from his 2003 American Idol second-place finish.
“Clay Aiken the candidate is probably somebody 99% of the public has not seen,” Chinn said. “I think you see a different side of Clay.”
There was a small crew, usually three people with a single camera, Chinn said, with “pretty much unfettered access.” However, Aiken said the production was separate from the campaign, and he has not even seen the documentary yet. “They handled everything professionally and above board,” he said.
Of the campaign, Aiken said he has learned a lot in hindsight but would not have changed the way he ran.
“I planned on running a campaign that was honest and that was about the issues,” he said. “I recognized the best thing for me to do was be myself.”
Other highlights from the panel included:
—When Aiken was running, some did not take his candidacy serious or think a victory was at all possible. Aiken, a Democrat, noted the difficulty of his district, one of many he said has been “gerrymandered beyond recognition.” Nevertheless, he said, “I like to believe all races are winnable if you get your message out.”