'American Idol' suit alleges discrimination against blacks

July 27, 2013 at 3:16 PM

NEW YORK, July 27 (UPI) -- A lawsuit filed by 10 former "American Idol" contestants alleges producers intentionally culled black performers from the competition.

The 429-page complaint did not contend black contestants were barred from entering, but alleged senior executives looked for reasons to disqualify them during the competition, The Hollywood Reporter said.

"A staggering 31 percent of every American Idol Semi-Finalist contestant ... who happened to be a young black male was disqualified from the singing competition for reasons wholly unrelated to their singing talent," the document said. "Even though there were three times as many white (or non-black) contestants featured on American Idol over the course of 10 years, there has never been a single white (or non-black) contestant disqualified from American Idol."

Attorney James Freeman alleged one of the means of blocking the rise of black contestants was leveraging criminal rap sheets and requiring them to perform pre-selected songs while allowing white performers to pick their own material.

Legal analysts concluded the lawsuit faces some obstacles. The New York federal court where it was filed might not have jurisdiction, and previous court cases have concluded that casting decisions for television shows constitute free speech on the part of the producers.

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