Rumor: 'American Idol' accused of racism

9 African-American former contestants plan to sue the show and Fox network

CONFIRMED: New York lawyer submits letter to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission asking for permission to file lawsuit

According to TMZ, New York Daily News and other news outlets, New York attorney James H. Freeman claims "American Idol" has been publicly revealing that some black contestants have arrest records, and using that information as fodder to disqualify them from the show, all in the name of boosting ratings. The nine men involved in the lawsuit are: Corey Clark and Jaered Andrews (Season 2); Donnie Williams (Season 3); Terrell Brittenum and Derrell Brittenum (Season 5); Thomas Daniels and Akron Watson (Season 6); Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8); and Chris Golightly (Season 9).

In his letter to the EEOC, Freeman talks about the "cruel and inhumane" scheme by "Idol" producers, in which the show sics private eyes on contestants who admit a criminal past, then uses the information to portray them as "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants."

"Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe called the allegations "ridiculous."

Three African-Americans -- Fantasia Barrino, Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard -- have been "Idol" champions, and two of the judges, Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj, also are black.

"We treat everybody the same ... no matter the race, religion or sex," Lythgoe told TMZ. (Click here for more accounts of the alleged improprieties.)

Freeman isn't the first to accuse the show of humiliating black singers, the Daily News said. In March 2012, Jermaine Jones was booted off Season 11 for failing to reveal outstanding warrants for his arrest, prompting some critics to claim "Idol" staged the disqualification.

 

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