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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
31.

EasilyHard    

Fantasia, Ruben,

553 days ago
32.

tgrfan42069    

while the show is rigged and the fan voting means nothing..the claim of racism is a joke.many blacks have done good on the show see jennifer hudson for one..also rubin and fantasia won both black.

553 days ago
33.

the TRUTH    

wow another wonderful issue of " this happend becuase of the color of my skin" never on the fact they just were not good enuff to win the "big one" voting is choose by america not the idol judges when can we ever stop this bs race card pulling crap and live as equal and as one i remember ALL THOSE guys they had decent voices but none good enough to be idol stars look idol is so racist huh? we had fantasia win and ruben all on the fact AMERICANS LOVED THIER SINGING not over the color of the skin yes i know racism still exists but it is dyingo ut slowly but surely and i will laugh WHEN this case is thrown out with failure to prove and that IS THE TRUTH

553 days ago
34.

Keyser Söze    

You got to hate lawyers.

553 days ago
35.

Lucey    

I don't know about these guys having Warrants, But Idol has gone a different way since Paula

553 days ago
36.

Lucey    

I don't know about these guys having Warrants, But Idol has gone a different way since Paula & Simon left. They knew Talent when they saw it no matter the skin color. Idol hasn't had a black winner since the beginning of the series. But Jessica Sanchez came close and she's Hispanic. Idol has changed alot but I can't bash them for investigating contestants. I just hope they investigate the white ones too for money laundering lol jk

553 days ago
37.

Lucey    

I don't know about these guys having Warrants, But Idol has gone a different way since Paula & Simon left. They knew Talent when they saw it no matter the skin color. Idol hasn't had a black winner since the beginning of the series. But Jessica Sanchez came close and she's Hispanic. Idol has changed alot but I can't bash them for investigating contestants. I just hope they investigate the white ones too for money laundering lol jk

553 days ago
38.

Sally    

They probably were so bad. Many of the contestants are horrible singers and they don't even realize it. American Idol is one of the last programs I would suspect as being racist. I hope it is thrown out of court - they are wasting taxpayers money on this frivolous lawsuit. Get a job and stop worrying.

553 days ago
39.

pk20152    

it's sad, but the biggest racists are african americans.

553 days ago
40.

fatty fat    

Hahahaha! Stupid *****'s giving other stupid *****'s a bad name.

What about that fat black dude that won? Oh' and that black chick that won with the short hair that looks like a guy? They WON THE DAMN SHOW!!!

553 days ago
41.

Rob    

Obama's America. Where EVERYDAMN thing is about race and if you aren't black and say one thing you are called a RAAAACIST, Well, screw them. I wasn't a racist before, but I am sure getting trired of all their crapola now....

553 days ago
42.

Tammy LM    

I swear some lawyers will do almost ANYTHING to get their name out there wont they..... No offense Harvey!

This is the most ridiculous crap I've heard in my life since at least 3 o'clock yesterday.
This guy's claiming that all the contestants that happened to have arrest warrants in their past happen to be black. Yeah? And? So? If they had REAL legitimate warrants and the show didn't fabricate them.....well then too bad. Unless you find that there were equally as many WHITE contestants that had warrants that were deliberately overlooked by the show and allowed to continue to compete then you've got NOTHING! Just because the only contestants that had warrants were black doesn't say anything except that there seems to be an awful lot more black people being arrested than white on that show. It has nothing to do with the show. It's statistics and you expect the show to pay for the FACT that more blacks had warrants and an arrest history than the whites did? BULL-(you know the rest)!!! The show has every right as a PUBLIC PLATFORM and a responsible FAMILY-ORIENTED network to do everything in their power to make sure the contestants that they are turning into public celebrity figures....also known as ROLE MODELS have nothing in their past that will embarrass the show or the network. They have every legal right to screen these people. The laws may prevent them from asking certain questions but it doesn't prevent them from doing what is commonly called BACKGROUND checks. It's perfectly legal and it is perfectly responsible to do. We as a society encourage people to do background checks on people we hire to represent us. In fact, hunny, I'll bet you've done a few on the people you hire to work in your own law offices. If you don't, then God help you. And when you get right down to it, these contestants knew that AI has the right to remove your from the show if you have any arrests in your past. Your clients, deliberately LIED and misled the show's producers, by trying to hide what was later discovered anyway. So that in my book boils down to attempted fraud anyway. If you clients had been arrested they shouldn't have even tried out. but they didn't care. Just like you don't care. ANYTHING TO GET THEIR FIFTEEN MINUTES AND SOME PRIZE MONEY. Case closed!

553 days ago
43.

shaverajae    

u ppl commenting seem like ur racist PS.white ppl. r the most racist. ppl of them all remember. SLAVERY!!!!

553 days ago
44.

Nicoleasm    

I really don't agree or have any sympathy for these guys. Having an outstanding warrant is a big deal. How is AI supposed to know if they wouldn't be convicted? That's not good for the AI brand and it wouldn't be fair to the other contestants who left if these men went to jail and couldn't do their contracts

553 days ago
45.

ivan    

I guess all those whites and Hispanics and Asians that were discriminated against should get in line to sue American Idol also. this country is more racially divided under Obama than it was Under the previous presidents. Could it be the excessive obsession with race? this is a merit-less law suit.

553 days ago
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