Video: The dark side of 'Idol'

msnbc.com
updated 12/14/2006 1:17:22 PM ET 2006-12-14T18:17:22

Winning a spot on the ratings giant "American Idol" might seem like a dream come true, but that's not always the case. Diana DeGarmo, “Idol’s” runner-up from season three, discovered it can turn into a frightening experience. 

For the last year, DeGarmo has been stalked and harassed by a fan she met on the Internet.

DeGarmo shared her story about the downside of fame with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. The transcript is below: 

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Can you tell us about your experience?

DIANA DEGARMO, "AMERICAN IDOL" RUNNER-UP:  The aftermath of “American Idol” was wonderful, and then a whole other storm hit, to say the least.  I have been dealing with a stalker, or I guess you might say, a person who has been trying to steal my identity or so for the past nine months.

I have been dealing with this young woman who decided that she would like to become me, pretty much, and try to take over my life.  So, I had a MySpace account, just like every other performer and a young person in the country, and now around the world, and all of a sudden, you know, started having all these weird things happen. 

My account was signed on.  I started receiving odd e-mails, as if I was replying to someone.  And, finally, my fan site also started getting all these weird things.  And we were able to track through the I.P. addresses that it was the same person in Australia who was deciding that they wanted to become me. 

So, through all and all, they were terrorizing my family, my friends,  any person that I ever came in contact with, they were able to get in touch with, sometimes pretending to be me, and cursing these people out, or sometimes pretending—or she was actually acting as her self and saying, “Well, you know, if I can’t get to Diana, I’m going to get to you.”  So it’s been quite an ordeal. 

SCARBOROUGH:  When you finally confronted her, did you ask her what she wanted? 

DEGARMO:  I was almost at the boiling point emotionally.  I was going nuts, because, you know, she was sending me text messages, and calling me, and e-mailing me, you know, almost 100 times in one day. 

SCARBOROUGH:  A hundred times a day? 

DEGARMO:  Yes, yes. On top of text messaging and things like that, I finally said, “OK, OK, what do you want?  I will give you any autograph.  I will give you any videotape, any piece of memorabilia of mine, you know?  Just will you please just go away?  What do you want from me?  I don’t understand; I never did anything wrong to you.” 

And she simply wrote back in an instant message, “1M.”  And I said, “Well, what does 1M stand for?”  And she said, “$1 million.”  And I just remember my jaw absolutely hitting the floor.  


SCARBOROUGH:
  I guess there is a good warning for people out there, if they just want to go on “American Idol,” this is not just a casual—it’s not a casual visit into fame.  There are millions and millions of people who watch this show, who are extraordinarily intense.

DEGARMO:  Around the world.  All around the world.

SCARBOROUGH:  Around the world, as you found, right? 

DEGARMO:  Yes, you know? The great thing is, in a way, I was fortunate to have somebody that was in an English-speaking country, because I literally have fans—I get fan mail from people in Pakistan, Russia, Belgium, England, Australia, Singapore, all around the world. 

But “American Idol” and other such different reality shows really catapult people.  And your life becomes kind of like an open book to the world, so you’d better be prepared for anything and everything.  

SCARBOROUGH:  Our thanks to Diana DeGarmo for coming on and telling her personal story.  And we want you to know she got some good news earlier this week:  The woman who’d been harassing her for so long finally pleaded guilty to stalking. 

Catch 'Scarborough Country' each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

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