"American Idol" is NOT racist against Black contestants -- the lawsuit filed by 10 former Idol wannabes who claimed they were cut over race ... has been dismissed, but mostly on a technicality.
TMZ broke the story ... the contestants claimed "Idol" producers dug up criminal charges from their pasts -- including crimes for which they were never convicted -- and this was done strictly because they're Black.
According to new court docs, however ... all but 1 of them waited too long to file their cases, and since the statute of limitations ran out ... they had no leg to stand on. A judge tossed the cases.
The one who DID file in time -- Chris Golightly ... had his case dismissed when "Idol" proved to the court the reason he was booted was because he'd violated a show rule by being in a band.
Idol -- 10 ... Plaintiffs -- 0
Enlarged Heart Killed Him
11/18/2014 8:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
"American Idol" singer Michael Johns died from an enlarged heart, but a "fatty liver" contributed to his death ... this according to the Coroner's report.
The 35-year-old singer died suddenly Aug. 1 after his leg became swollen and bruised ... reportedly from a sprained ankle. Family sources claimed the injury had triggered a blood clot, but his best friend claimed the singer drank himself to death.
The Orange County Coroner's report concludes Johns died of natural causes -- the result of a disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that inhibits the flow of blood to the body. The disease caused his heart to enlarge.
As for the "fatty liver" ... it can be caused by excessive alcohol intake, but there are other causes as well. Law enforcement told us ... Johns often drank to excess and did so hours before he died.
I Need a New Kidney
Or Music Career Is Kaput
11/2/2014 7:57 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
"American Idol" Season 8 finalist Scott MacIntyre says he's got 6 months until his kidney gives out ... and if he doesn't get a new one before then -- his music career is in serious jeopardy.
MacIntyre and his wife were out Saturday night in Hollywood when he told us he's currently waiting for a donor ... but he's hopeful about getting one before his kidney completely fails.
For those interested, Scott told our photog where he's listed ... and said people have already promised him they'd get tested to see if they're a match.
Good luck Scott, we're rooting for you.
'American Idol' Contestant
Joanne Borgella Dead at 32
From 'Rare Case' of Cancer
10/18/2014 3:58 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Former "American Idol" contestant Joanne Borgella died Saturday at the age of 32 ... after fighting for the past year against what she described as a "rare case" of cancer.
Borgella's family broke the news on her Facebook page Saturday ... saying the singer passed away around 5:45 A.M. -- adding, "Her faith, courage and strength were unshaken throughout every obstacle she encountered."
Joanne was the first winner of "Mo'Nique's Fat Chance" using the name "Miss F.A.T." in 2005. In 2008, she was on Season 7 of "A.I." and made it into the top 12 girls category.
Last year, Joanne said her cancer was rare because it had spread to her chest -- the family's post on Facebook described it as endometrial cancer ... a form of cancer that attacks the lining of the womb.
Borgella last updated her social media pages about her battle in September ... and said she was going back to radiation for 2 more procedures.
Katharine McPhee Divorce
You're Still My ATM
... Says Ex
9/29/2014 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Katharine McPhee's about to score a huge paycheck ... but she probably shouldn't blow it on a new Maserati ... because her soon-to-be-ex Nick Cokas gets half.
Columbia/Epic Records still owes Kat $700K according to court docs ... and she concedes it's community property -- meaning Nick gets half.
As we've reported ... the divorce is bitter ... Nick's accusing Katharine of banging "Smash" director Michael Morris and then lying about it. It really doesn't legally matter, but he's pissed.
And here's the REALLY awkward part ... we're told Kat and Nick are still joined at the hip ... he's still her manager ... and it will stay that way until his contract with her ends sometime next year.
Take Half My Fortune
And Make it Your Own
9/28/2014 1:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Randy Jackson has 2 things that would be problematic for a lot of guys ... a $40 MILLION fortune, and no prenup.
TMZ broke the story ... Randy's wife filed for divorce Friday, after 18 years of marriage. Sources connected with the couple tell us ... they had no prenup, which means all of Randy's earnings during the marriage are split 50/50.
Short story ... all of Randy's "American Idol" money is on the table. We're told toward the end of Randy's 12-year run as a judge he averaged around $5 mil a year.
We're also told his estimated worth is approximately $40 million. Although some of that is money he brought into the relationship -- meaning it's his separate property -- we're told it's been so commingled over the years it's impossible to unscramble ... so Erika will get half ... subject to any wheeling and dealing between the lawyers.
And finally ... they're still living together and getting along just fine. There are no allegations of infidelity. As one source put it, "It's not gonna be all Amber Rose and Wiz Khalifa."
Randy Jackson's Wife
I Want A Divorce, Dawg!
9/26/2014 11:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Ex-"American Idol" judge Randy Jackson just got voted out ... of his marriage. His wife filed for divorce ... TMZ has learned.
Erika Jackson filed docs to end their 18-year marriage ... citing irreconcilable differences.
She wants full physical custody and joint legal custody of the 1 minor son, 17-year-old Jordan. They have a daughter who is an adult.
Erika also wants spousal support and she wants him to foot her attorney's fees.
This is Jackson's 2nd marriage. He has 1 other daughter from his prior marriage.
Jackson spent 12 seasons judging "American Idol" ... but announced he was leaving in 2013. He later returned as a musical mentor for the contestants.
'Idol' Contestant Michael Johns
Friend Claims Cover-Up
Alcohol Killed Him
9/17/2014 3:41 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The wife of "American Idol" contestant Michael Johns created a lie to cover-up the real cause of death ... alcohol abuse ... this according to his best friend.
Stacey Vuduris filed legal docs -- obtained by TMZ -- claiming Torrey Gambill has been on a hate campaign, blaming her for Michael's death in August and sending her abusing texts.
But Torrey has fired off legal docs of his own, claiming Stacey concocted a lie after he found Michael dead in his Orange County apartment.
After Michael died, we reported Stacey's story -- that Michael had an ankle injury that led to a fatal blood clot. But law enforcement told us at the time Michael had engaged in heavy alcohol use prior to death.
Torrey quotes from a text Stacey sent him shortly after Michael died, saying, "I'd rather it be said he died at home if that's ok with u .. he would want that."
Stacey continued, "I rather that then 'alcoholic' stuff ... his good friends would never say anything ... so I don't think that will come out. At least blood clot sounds sudden."
Torrey also says Michael and Stacey were separated, and that Michael "insinuated" she had a boyfriend. He says Stacey put Michael through hell his last year.
According to legal docs ... Stacey and Torrey settled their beef without a judge's order.
Half-Brother Jailed in Stabbing
8/19/2014 5:58 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
It's so eerie ... Jennifer Hudson's half-brother is in jail ... for allegedly repeatedly stabbing a man in the face ... a man who was involved in a relationship with his estranged wife.
The incident mirrors another tragedy in the Hudson family. William Balfour -- the ex-boyfriend of Jennifer's sister Julia -- murdered her mom, brother and nephew in a jealous rage triggered by what he thought was a gift to Julia from her new boyfriend.
Steven Simpson is now in custody in Paw Paw, Michigan, and he's expected to be charged with home invasion and attempted murder.
'A.I.' Josh Gracin
Apologizes for Suicide Threat
8/15/2014 3:52 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Josh Gracin -- the American Idol Season 2 finalist who left what appeared to be a suicide note that got cops and family scrambling Thursday -- has checked himself into an inpatient facility and is remorseful over the commotion he caused.
TMZ broke the story ... Josh posted a message on Facebook with a clear message -- he was about to take his life. The post read in part: "I loved her for 17 years ... I made mistakes ... I admitted them, told her the truth and she turned her back on me when I needed her help the most."
The post went on: "Pray for my family as they carry on in this world without me. Goodbye."
Cops picked Josh up Thursday night and took him to the hospital. He just released this statement:
"I want to thank you all for your prayers and support. I take responsibility for my actions and apologize dearly for what I have put my family through. With the help of my family and friends, I am getting help."
'American Idol' Josh Gracin
Writes Apparent Suicide Note
8/14/2014 4:19 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
7:40 PM PDT -- Cops tell us Gracin is being held on a 5150 psychiatric hold. We're told he drove himself to a hospital, with a police escort, after they pulled him over. He's been cooperative, has spoken to his family ... and is being evaluated by doctors now.
5:33 PM PDT -- We're told cops intercepted Gracin on his way home and all they'll say is, "He's safe."
'American Idol' Season 2 finalist Josh Gracin had neighbors and police racing to his door ... after posting what looked like a suicide note in the wake of marital problems.
We're told cops responded to the former Marine's home in Spring Hill, TN -- where he lives with his wife and 4 kids -- for a welfare check after a family member saw an ominous Facebook post:
"I've loved her for 17 years ... I made mistakes ... I admitted them, told her the truth and she turned her back on me when I needed her help the most."
He continued, "Please remember me as someone who gave his all in his music ... Pray for my family as they carry on in this world without me. Goodbye."
Cops rushed to his house -- his wife was there but he wasn't. Law enforcement sources tell us police got in touch with him by phone, put him on with his wife, and he told her he was coming home.
Cops are staying at the home until Josh arrives.
Story developing ...
Husband Calls BS
We Were NOT Separated When She Cheated!
8/13/2014 12:50 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Katharine McPhee's hubby claims his estranged wife is a cheater and a liar.
Nick Cokas has filed new divorce docs -- obtained by TMZ -- which squarely contradict Katharine's version of the timeline of their separation ... which is relevant because of the photos showing her making out with "Smash" director Michael Morris.
Katharine claimed in her divorce docs they separated in March, 2013 -- months before pics surfaced in October showing Katharine and Michael sucking face.
But Nick begs to differ, claiming the separation was actually in May, 2014 ... long after Katharine hooked up with Michael.
Nick has some pretty powerful evidence to back up his version, including emails and texts about their relationship. Family sources say Nick can show he and Katharine were in marriage counseling AFTER the pictures surfaced.
The separation date is important because it determines when Katharine's money becomes hers alone.
And she's not getting off easy ... Nick wants spousal support.
Michael Johns 911 Call
8/4/2014 6:02 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Former "American Idol" contestant Michael Johns may have been dead for more than an hour before he was discovered ... according to the friend who found him.
TMZ has obtained the dramatic 911 call. Michael's friend tearfully tells the dispatcher he had left Johns 2 hours before and he seemed ok, but when he returned Michael was motionless ... and not breathing.
The friend tells the dispatcher he fears Michael is dead and says Michael was cold to the touch and it appeared rigor mortis had set in.
You hear the friend breathlessly perform CPR ... to no avail.
Johns died Friday. The coroner has not determined the cause of death. Johns complained he had twisted his ankle and the swelling spread to his knee. Police were told he had been drinking a significant amount of alcohol although we do not know the time frame. We don't know if he was on pain meds.