This season of "American Idol" has seen a bit of a dip in ratings, and now it appears producers could see a dip in income if a lawsuit on behalf of past eliminated contestants goes to court.
TMZ reports that Attorney James H. Freeman has requested permission to sue the talent competition and Fox from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit claims nine black former contestants were ousted from the show in a public and humiliating manner as part of a racist plot to drive up ratings.
The nine contestants banding together for the lawsuit are Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell and Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8) and Chris Golightly (Season 9).
The roots behind the lawsuit go back to Season 11, when Jermaine Jones was removed from the show after producers claimed the contestant had not informed them of outstanding arrest warrants. The attorney then conducted an investigation into past similar eliminations and discovered that producers had only publicly disqualified 9 other people from the show, all of whom were black.
Freeman notes that the background check conducted by the show's producers asks prospective contestants whether they have ever been arrested, a violation of California employment law. The question serves as a means of finding black contestants with skeletons in their closets, then exposing them on national television and consequently perpetuating negative stereotypes about black people, portraying them as "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants."
Showrunner Nigel Lythgoe dismissed the accusations, telling TMZ, "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."
What do you think, "Idol" fans? Is the popular talent show really just a vast racist conspiracy plot? Suddenly Nicki Minaj's appointment to the judge's table makes a lot more sense...