Nine black, former "American Idol" contestants have reportedly accused the Fox series of racism and are planning to sue.
TMZ obtained a letter submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by New York attorney James Freeman, requesting permission to sue Fox and the show on behalf of his nine clients. In the letter, Freeman claims there is a racist pattern in the "Idol" disqualification process.
Freeman alleges that only nine "Idol" contestants had been publicly disqualified since the show debuted in 2002, and all happened to be black. He claims the show enacted a "cruel and inhumane" scheme, which included background checks and arrest inquiries, to humiliate the contestants on live TV and perpetuate "destructive stereotypes" that made his clients appear to be "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants."
Nigel Lythgoe, producer of "American Idol," told TMZ he was "shocked" by the "ridiculous" allegations.
Visit TMZ's site for the full list of disqualified contestants and more details on the lawsuit.
Although seven of the nine contestants were booted due to legal issues, two were not. Chris Golightly (Season 9) was disqualified when "Idol" learned he had an existing contract with a boy band, Billboard reported. And Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8) was not publicly disqualified, according to Zap2It, though he never advanced past the semifinals.
As for whether or not any non-black contestants were publicly disqualified, Zap2It cites Delano Cagnolatti (Season 1) and Joanna Pacitti (Season 8), who were both dismissed on air.
"American Idol," which has crowned three black winners in its history, has been accused of racial biases several times. When Phillip Phillips beat Jessica Sanchez to win the Season 11 cycle, the show was accused of being racist. In November 2012, judge Nicki Minaj had a spat with rocker and co-judge Steven Tyler and accused him of making a racist comment about her judging qualifications.