Former 'American Idol' contestants claim discrimination - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Former 'American Idol' contestants claim discrimination

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Former American Idol contestants' lawsuit accuses show of racism. (Source: CNN) Former American Idol contestants' lawsuit accuses show of racism. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - It's been the biggest show on television, a show with a diverse group of judges, and contestants, which has produced four African American winners out of twelve competitions.

But now a lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of ten former Idol contestants says the producers of the show engage in racist behavior. They are asking the court for more than $25 million each.

Fox, which broadcasts Idol, and producers behind the show, declined CNN's request for a statement.

James Freeman, the attorney behind the suit, told CNN he believes Idol producers target black men on the show for ridicule and dismissal if they are discovered to have any sort of criminal record.

And his complaint alleges white contestants who are accused of similar offenses are allowed to continue in the competition.

It was the dismissal of season 11 finalist Jermaine Jones that Freeman said inspired him to work on this case.

Jones was dismissed after the Smoking Gun website revealed he was the target of several arrest warrants, but his name, not on the lawsuit.

"I was asked to be a part of it, but I decided not to because, like I said I want to take the good with the bad. I'm just moving forward," he said.

Jones said contestants know what they are getting into when they sign up to be on Idol.

"You had an opportunity to make something of it, so what have you done over these years to earn you 25 million dollars?" he said.

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