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'American Idol'

Accused of RACISM

by 9 Black Ex-Contestants

1/25/2013 7:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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Nine black former "American Idol" contestants -- from various seasons -- are banding together to SUE the show ... claiming they were all FORCED off "Idol" as part of a racist (and illegal) plot to boost ratings. 

TMZ has obtained a letter, submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by NY attorney James H. Freeman -- in which he asks for permission to sue Idol and FOX on behalf of his clients ... who have all appeared on the show: FYI, Freeman is required to file with the EEOC before filing suit.

Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8) and Chris Golightly (Season 9).

In his letter, Freeman claims he noticed something fishy about "Idol" when Jermaine Jones was kicked off on March 15, 2012. Producers had claimed Jones failed to inform them about multiple outstanding warrants out for his arrest. 

Freeman claims he conducted an investigation into the show -- and found that producers had only publicly disqualified 9 other people from the show since it first hit the air ... and they all happened to be black.

Freeman now alleges that "Idol" has been conducting a "cruel and inhumane" scheme to exploit and humiliate black contestants for ratings.

According to the letter, Freeman believes the annual "scheme" begins during the background check stage of the show -- when producers ask wannabe contestants the question -- "Have you ever been arrested?"

Freeman claims the question is a violation of CA employment law ... and since his clients were essentially applying for "employment" with Idol, the show was FORBIDDEN from asking contestants about their arrest history.

But Freeman claims ... the ill-gotten information from the question, coupled with arrest records obtained by private investigators working for Idol, were used to humiliate the black Idol contestants on national TV ... and in the process, perpetuated "destructive stereotypes" about black people.

Freeman also claims the show made his clients appear to be "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants" ... when they weren't.

What's more ... Freeman claims the show has "NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production."

According to Freeman, NONE of the contestants who were disqualified from the show based on their criminal backgrounds were convicted of the crimes for which they were charged at the time of their disqualification.

But Freeman adds, "Yet their personal and professional lives remain permanently and severely impaired by [the show's] continuing violations of our nation's laws."

Freeman's letter is the first step towards a lawsuit -- and we're told as soon as he gets the green light from the EEOC, he plans to file the docs in court.

We spoke to "Idol" honcho Nigel Lythgoe ... who tells us he was "shocked" by the "ridiculous" allegations.

He explained, "We treat everybody the same ... no matter the race, religion or sex."

"I think we've always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both black and white ... I don't think I've ever seen racism at the show."

A rep for FOX declined to comment.

FYI -- "Idol" has had 3 African-American winners in its history -- Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Jordin Sparks.

789 COMMENTS

No Avatar
196.

Angie    

I do not think that is the case at all, besides their entire planel now is African American..so? I do not understand. Everyone is always suing everyone. I guess that is American way today..sad =/

532 days ago
197.

ColoradoRob    

How many background checks do you think they failed before for employment? Idol just happens/seems to be easy pickens and TMZ desperate enough to run the story.

532 days ago
198.

Marvin Iavecchia    

Gee-zus... people need to stop being sore losers. These guys sucked and couldn't sing... AND they were criminals. Hello, it's american IDOL and criminals are not Idols. I do believe background checks should be conducted on ALL Idol contestants to include arrest history. If you don't like it, go apply for America's Got Talent or something else. There's plenty!

532 days ago
199.

Tim C    

When you are asked if you have ever been arrested and you respond NO when you have been, then that is the very definition of a lie. So don't lie and say they didn't lie when they did lie.

532 days ago
200.

Elaine    

Perhaps they couldn't sing. Stop playing the race card every time one of you gets the boot from a reality show, or doesn't get a job. Maybe you can't do the job, and like most of these guys, most of you can't sing.

532 days ago
201.

Elaine    

Oh for pity's sake, maybe they couldn't sing. Not every black person can sing, not every black man/boy
can play football/basketball. Welcome to the new
Amerika.... Made possible by the t w i t elected by the pavement apes of America.

532 days ago
202.

msdawndawn    

The BS meter is buzzing! Nobody remembers any of these guys. Maybe Corey - Only because of the Paula connection. An employer? Did they get paid one red cent? Why can't Idol ask if you have had a criminal past? These guys are on a show that require that they make an appearance the entire time that they are on the show. It is a reasonable question. Perhaps the reason that these guys were kicked off the show is because they were criminals (potential criminals) & they just happen to be black. Give me a f*c*'n break.

532 days ago
203.

Carlos Spicywiener    

What kind of stupid name is "ju'not" and that Chris guy doesn't even look black.

532 days ago
204.

YungOne    

So it's not MY FAULT that I was arrested and didn't tell you about it. It's your fault for finding out. You find me a white contestant who stayed on the show with a criminal record then we can talk.

532 days ago
205.

hiceboi    

We cry racism but white poeple smoke meth an go shoot up movie centers

532 days ago
206.

Jenny    

this is just stupid .. the show isn't racist they have had african american winners and ones who came real close who the heck are these 9 guys any how .. the guy from last season his stuff was outstanding still in affect in another words they didnt want to bring trouble to the idol stage you dont see him among the 9 morons. its all for money anyway to make a quick buck so they can blow it and then try to do it again . such a sad world and sad bunch of guys .. so easy to use the race card ... shouldnt do that unless it is about it ..Idol is on its 12th season if the show was that coruptted i think it would of been cancelled a long time ago

532 days ago
207.

Danielle123    

@Cheri Give me a break. You can speak when white people are no longer performing mass murders on innocent people. We can't even watch a movie in peace without somebody shooting the place up. Our kids can't even attend school without fear that they're going to be shot while practicing their ABC's. White people steal and white people shoot just like black people do. Many white people feel as though because they are wearing a suit when they steal, that they are better. Here's a heads up: You are not. White people commit money laundering; are involved in ponzi schemes, etc. They were also involved in the mob, which is much like the African American gangs that you seem to direct your hate toward today. It's fine when white people do it but when black people do it, they are violent criminals who should never be able to walk on the ground you walk on. Please. I mean, for crying out loud, there's a Mob Wives show which glorifies that criminal lifestyle. Where is the hate for that? Non-existant. But the minute TMZ posts a Basketball Wives story, the hate and racism begins. Double standards at it's finest. and then you wonder why black people cry racism. Because it is still alive and well and that can be seen by simply scrolling through these comments. When your race is clear of the atrocities that are committed, that is when you can speak on my own.

532 days ago
208.

LAPartyMcSage    

Uh oh. Looks like TMZ didn't do its homework.
If you dig deep, you will find that they just may have a case. Only other non black contestants disqualified had curious voweled surnames like Delano Cagnolatti (for lying about his age) and Joanna Pacitti (for alleged connections to 19 showbiz execs.) Further non lilly white bias or coincidence? Question is were white contestants investigated and dismissed for infractions as much as the others? We shall see. I hope they win. I've always hated this show. And this lawsuit will prove that it has always been a bogus reality show fix.

532 days ago
209.

Sapphiegirl    

Since when is lying on a job application and getting caught racism? It is grounds for dismissal at any company or business in the US. Applying for American Idol is a job application since the top 10 ALWAYS go on the AI tour. Not to mention that most if not all contracts in the entertainment industry contain moral clauses that give the employer the RIGHT to terminate the contract if violated. Lying on your job application is considered immoral and according most entertainment contracts is grounds for terminating the contract without prejudice.

532 days ago
210.

Danielle123    

TMZ knows exactly what they are doing when they posts stories like this. They race bait and the racists and trolls come running. Then the African-Americans come running in rebuttal to defend their race. Notice that all stories like these are the ones with the highest amount of comments.

532 days ago
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