Nine black, former "American Idol" contestants have accused the popular singing reality series -- now in its 12th season -- with racial discrimination.
The nine booted contestants -- Corey Clark, Jaered Andrews, Donnie Williams, twins Terrell and Derrell Brittenum, Thomas Daniels, Akron Watson, Ju'Not Joyner and Chris Golightly -- have reportedly charged Fox and the series' producers with humiliating black "Idol" hopefuls for higher ratings.
"Among other allegations, we have taken the position that there are continuing violations of the U.S. Constitution and we are asking the commission to investigate," the group's attorney James Freeman told E! News. "As of now it is not a lawsuit; it is just a request to the federal government that they investigate."
"Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe had this to say:
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.
In a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission obtained by TMZ, Freeman said that the only nine contestants ever to be publicly disqualified from the show have been black. He said "Idol" producers conducted a "scheme" in which they asked contestants if they'd ever been arrested, then used that information to "humiliate" them.
According to Freeman, NONE of the contestants who were disqualified from the show based on their criminal backgrounds were convicted of the crimes for which they were charged at the time of their disqualification.
But Freeman adds, "Yet their personal and professional lives remain permanently and severely impaired by [the show's] continuing violations of our nation's laws."