Our TV Shows

Got a Tip?

Call TMZ at (888) 847-9869 or Click Here

'American Idol'

Accused of RACISM

by 9 Black Ex-Contestants

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

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.


No Avatar


This lawyer should be sued for stupidity!

639 days ago


Ok wasn't Corey Clark the one who beat up a teenaged girl....and the Terrell/Derrell brothers stole someone's identity and ran amuck with it? Then Jermaine with his warrants? about not racist but just plan ol' hood rats?

639 days ago


Black people will never have the energy to hate white people like you do blacks, were to focused on our talents. We dont race hate.

639 days ago


It's those that scream racism that;s usually the real racist....Sore losers!

639 days ago


Blacks already have it way better than whites and it has been that way for YEARS!
Martin Luther King Jr. fought for EQUALITY. Most blacks today want everything better than everyone else and they wanted it HANDED to them with no work involved.
Think about it, can you imagine if whites even had a television channel similar to BET? Whites would be called every racist name in the book!
Blacks don't want equality, they wanted better than others and they want it given to them for FREE.
I am SO sick of hearing their entitled whining!! WORK LIKE THE REST OF US!!

639 days ago


well ,I can't speak on the other contestants ,but I do know one ,and he was booted off for no reason ,he had petty fines ,which he was taking care of and AI knew . He does have a job ,and yes he does have every right to go after them for humiliation ,but I will say they didn't ruin his life ,he still sings and is making an album

639 days ago


It seems obvious this lawyer is the one who instigated this ‘class action lawsuit’. How else could 9 contestants from different seasons all claim that Idol "has been conducting a "cruel and inhumane" scheme to exploit and humiliate black contestants for ratings." And FOX was also in on it?

The fact is, most people involved in this type of lawsuit don’t initiate it and aren't even aware that it is a possibility until a lawyer contacts them. They don’t have to pay the lawyer, so most will agree to be part of the suit. If the case is won or settled out of court, the lawyer usually gets much more than the individuals named in the suit.

This lawyer is probably hoping AI and FOX will offer them a quick settlement. The real issue appears to be whether or not IDOL conducted criminal and background checks on ALL contestants who were at the stage each of these guys were at when they got booted off.

639 days ago


Paint this white kid in a room full of blacks most likey everyone will joke play and kid around with black kid in a room full of whites you will mostly treat him strange and mean he would eventually change schools. Stop following and lead.

639 days ago

HRH Prince Michael    

"The Gangsta of Love"/Jonah Productions/Melchizedek Muse Music?
Whoa, whoa, WOE...
"WE won't let another Mutha-F***** Elvis happen!"
$100 Million OVER-DUE.

The House of David 2 Chronicles 13 Victory, is HERE:

639 days ago


This is beautiful! They will win... just as I just won a lawsuit under the same grounds against the background check company that my former employer used. The reason is that the EEOC has deemed the "re-entry community", which is predominantly black & brown, as a demographic w/i the U.S. populus & thus, covered under TITLE 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act of Ccongress... just as all other listed criterias on an application, we too can't be denied employment soley under those grounds, whether factual or not unless there is "direct relevance". Meaning the new job can't be directly related to the criminal offense comminted w/i the past 7yrs. No exceptions.

I won my lawsuit under those grounds & am sitting $15K richer minus attorney fees. We also have a few more suits of teh same nature pending.

639 days ago


Racist people are pathetic morons! Give it up! You are not superior and we are not going anywhere, so choke on it! It feels so good when I drive up in my 60k truck that I WORKED hard for, and they stare from their ford pintos as if its stolen. You are nothing, but uneducated, sibling banging, toothless losers!

639 days ago

WhatsUrDefinition of crazy    

Don't commit crimes and end up with a record...not that hard ...and then there would be nothing to cry about ...

639 days ago


Chris Golightley is black?

639 days ago


LMFAO An Ocuppy Wall Street lawyer is suing American Idol? LMFAO

639 days ago


Give me a break! ReGodDamnDiculas

639 days ago
Previous 15 Comments | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | Most Recent | Next 15 Comments

Around The Web