Fox's singing reality competition American Idol has been hit by 10 of its former contestants with a $250 million lawsuit, alleging racism from the show's cast.
The complaint runs the length of a Harry Potter novel at 429 pages (the contestants' lawyer James H. Freeman is the same fellow who filed a 219-age suit against Lionsgate for $500 million earlier this year), pointing fingers at everyone from Fox Broadcasting, Fremantle, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe to AI's corporate sponsors such as Ford Motors, Coca-Cola and AT&T. There's even a Willy Wonka movie analogy.
The contestants claim that the show's producers gassed up Black contestants with criminal records, only to showboat their disqualification on-camera “to scandal-monger Nielsen ratings while reinforcing the age-old stereotype of the ‘black criminal.’” The lawsuit, which comes amid a proposed class action on behalf of "Black Golden Ticket Holders" (2002-12, males only), even drop this eye-grabbing statistic if true.
"A staggering thirty-one percent (31%) of every American Idol Semi-Finalist contestant [Top 24, Top 36-40] who happened to be a young Black male was disqualified from the singing competition for reasons wholly unrelated to their singing talent," the doc reads. "Even though there were three (3) times as many White (or non-black) contestants featured on American Idol over the course of ten years, there has never been a single White (or non-black) contestant disqualified from American Idol – not ever."
For those of us who don't have the leisure to peruse the entire suit, Billboard provides the highlights here.
Photo: Finalists of Season 12 | Credit: Getty