Monday, January 28, 2013
Nine former American Idol contestants plan to sue for racial discrimination
The list includes Dallas-born Akron Watson.
According to TMZ, nine former American Idol contestants from different seasons are banding together under NY attorney James H. Freeman to sue the popular FOX reality show, alleging that racism played a key role in their dismal from the show.
The names listed in a letter sent to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asking for permission to sue the show, are 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).
Watson is a name that might be familiar to local American Idol fans. The Dallas-born singer and actor was on his way to Hollywood when he got a call from the show’s producers telling him he wasn’t coming after all. The speculation was that Watson’s prior 2003 charge for misdemeanor possession of marijuana was the reason he was kicked off the show, but he says he was open with producers from the beginning about his history.
The letter TMZ obtained alleges that Watson is not the only one who has been suspiciously dismissed from the show, and that everyone kicked off shares at least one common thread: According to TMZ, “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.”
American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe told TMZ he was “shocked” by the “ridiculous” allegations.
There’s definitely something weird about Watson’s story and how he was treated (I.E., poorly), but I don’t know how far the racism accusation will go against a show that currently sports two black judges (Randy Jackson and Nicky Minaj) and has crowned three black winners, including season 2′s winner Ruben Studdard (who, granted, doesn’t seem to be as recognizable a name as runner-up Clay Aiken). As for the claim that the show has “NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production,” Zap2It cites two non-black contestants who were publicly disqualified: “Delano Cagnolatti (for lying about his age) and Joanna Pacitti (for alleged connections to 19 Entertainment executives) were disqualified and replaced in the semi-finals.”
In related news, Fort Worth native Dr. Calvin Peters is a black man who impressed the judges this week. He seems like he’s worth rooting for this season.