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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

0124_idol_9_launch
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.

788 COMMENTS

No Avatar
241.

eBank    

Stupidest **** I've read. Criminals lying? GTFO! Unpossible!

600 days ago
242.

sypher    

Much like Idol racism, Harvey said he could replace Van in a week. Has he ever said that to a white employee? TMZRACISM?

600 days ago
243.

ELR1    

OMG.are u serious this is just a desperate attempt to make a quick Buck oh yea never mind the previous winners that were black that could sing SMH what a bike this wont make it to far..last time I filled out a work application it did ask for arrest history

600 days ago
244.

ELR1    

*what a joke

600 days ago
245.

Cujeaux    

I always found it odd that AI never ran their own background checks, then would happen to find out later while the contestant was competing that they had a record. It always seemed like an obvious attempt to gin up controversy and publicity for the show. Since Simon is constantly trying to create controversy for the X Factor, it wouldn't surprise me if he had a hand in it.

AI is such a joke. They got rid of Steven because the American heartland doesn't approve of leering trannys. Then replaced him with 2 divas who are so hyper -aware of their looks that they can't help but project it onto others. After one of the contestants performed, Nikki Minaj told her to get lashes. What a F'ing joke!

600 days ago
246.

shel    

Im filing a lawsuit because there are just too many racist on this post TMZ, I am a martian and my race is greed the color is green. Good day!

600 days ago
247.

Foebia    

my sister and cousin. That's why I don't watch that gimmick show. I was there when they audition when I lived in Detroit yrs ago. There were also people there with talent that they sent home and they deliberately picking folks that couldn't sing they told my sister and cousin who can sing to go audition some where else. Show clearly isn't about talent, because how many of those who won became successful singers? Shyt you're better off losing. Ask J hud. The show is about ratings and not talent or finding a great singer. Even the white boy clay aiken said this recently

600 days ago
248.

Observer999    

Oh boohoo. Just read TMZ any day, it could be sub-titled "blacks behaving badly". If so many blacks weren't committing criminal acts, they wouldn't get arrested so often, especially the men.

600 days ago
249.

Telling it    

Dismissing non-blacks and whites in secret while publically calling out black contestants on their prior arrests IS RACISM!

600 days ago
250.

Foebia    

my sister and cousin can actually sing and auditioned and they weren't checking for real talent. That's why I don't watch that gimmick show. I was there when they audition when I lived in Detroit yrs ago. There were also people there with talent that they sent home and they deliberately picking folks that couldn't sing they told my sister and cousin who can sing to go audition some where else. Show clearly isn't about talent, because how many of those who won became successful singers? Shyt you're better off losing. Ask J hud. The show is about ratings and not talent or finding a great singer. Even clay aiken said this recently

600 days ago
251.

Foebia    

The best thing blacks can do is not watch the show. The show has it final nail in the coffin anyway. They have to resort to gimmick like nicki garbaj who doesn't have any talent, judging others with talent

600 days ago
252.

Simone    

Oh wah wah wah I'm a criminal & someone found out. Now I want to hide behind the fact that I'm black. GTFOOHWTS Move on you desperate black men. Get a real ****ing job.

600 days ago
253.

DeeMaree    

Headlines are best when the subject is jest:
Do the crime, like the AI NINE.
NINE arrests doing their persecuted best.
Real life sucks for humiliated NINE
NINE protest, sue AI contest
NINE lie of crimes, so blue,
so now NINE is gonna sue.
Don't own your arrests, maybe not the best.
Crime can pay, yell race, then have a court day.
AI NINE uncorking the whine;
this lawsuit is just asiNINE.

600 days ago
254.

Nancy    

I have read all, of the mostly, racist posts and for the first time not one of them was from a spamer (just as bad) making 75 dollars working from their laptops at home. Did TMZ finally do something about these low lives?

600 days ago
255.

RD    

Of course it's racism, a black person didn't win. So tired of the same old thing whenever a black doesn't win something or get something. You don't hear whites crying or suing because most of the NBA is black, do you?

600 days ago
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