James Iadanza, the Raleigh man characterized by the host of the reality TV show “Bar Rescue” as “one of the drunkest, most obnoxious managers” ever seen on the series, is disputing the version of events put forth by the Spike show.
“Bar Rescue” will air the episode about the makeover of a nightclub in Raleigh’s Glenwood South district at 9 p.m. Sunday. The makeover took place in April at the Cashmere club, next door to Sullivan’s Steakhouse on Glenwood Avenue.
“Bar Rescue” host Jon Taffer told The News & Observer then that the club, now called Dual, was being mismanaged by a friend of the bar’s owner, and that the bar was losing $12,000 a month. Taffer said he advised the owner, Brandon Klintworth, to fire Iadanza. Klintworth did – on camera, over the phone.
Iadanza, who now works for an advertising agency in Raleigh and runs a DJ business on the side, said everything but the firing was an act, planned out by him and Klintworth to make the bar look as bad as possible so it could win the makeover from the series.
Emails sent to the N&O dated December 2012 show that Iadanza had created “roles” that everyone at the bar would potentially play.
Iadanza said he came up with the idea when he heard “Bar Rescue” was in Raleigh last November scouting locations for the show.
“I don’t even remember what was said when we were doing this,” Klintworth said of the emails. “It was more just kinda let everybody do their thing, and (Iadanza) just unfortunately took it over the top – which turned out to be funny for the show, but now it’s bothering him. No one told him to act like that.”
Iadanza also claims he was removed from the role of manager two months prior to the “Bar Rescue” taping, and had been working as the club’s DJ. But for the show, he was brought back to play the “drunken manager” role, he said.
Iadanza said he is bothered that other employees – some of whom he claims were brought in just for the cameras – didn’t play their roles, so that he came off looking much worse.
“Nobody was playing the part except me,” Iadanza said. “I realized I was going to look like an idiot. I got thrown under a bus that came chasing after me.”
Shana Tepper, a communications director at Spike TV, said in April that the network had no prior knowledge of anything Iadanza was alleging, and that the network had no plans to take action. But she did offer an explanation for the fact that some employees shown on the show had not been employees prior to the taping.
“We did not hire any actors for cast members; we want to make that very clear,” she said. “The show let Brandon know that they were understaffed for the stress test, so it’s not uncommon for bar owners to bring in new people.”
A stress test is when the show stresses the staff with lots of business to see how it handles the pressure.
Over the course of about a week, “Bar Rescue” converted Cashmere into Dual, which now features a high-tech lighting and sound system and dueling DJ booths. The week before, the show also made over a Garner restaurant, turning Characters Corners into MoonRunners Saloon.
‘It’s not reality’
Clips on the “Bar Rescue” website show Iadanza partying and dancing on the bar, and later, Taffer coming into the bar to confront him.
Iadanza insists that “Bar Rescue” producers coached bar employees during taping to get them to say certain things or to say things in a different way.
“It’s not reality,” Iadanza said.
But Klintworth said it’s close to reality.
“It’s exaggerated, but mostly it’s true,” he said. “They let us be how we wanted to be. It’s a reality show, so obviously they wanted to get the best clips, so they’ll do different takes to get it the way they want it.”
Klintworth said he regrets the way things went down but that he and Iadanza have cleared the air since the taping and are still friends. Iadanza is upset but said he’s trying to move on.
Klintworth was busy Friday overseeing the hanging of TV sets for the viewing party Dual is hosting Sunday night. The event starts at 7.
He said Iadanza has been invited. Iadanza said he will not be attending.