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With news of ten African-American American Idol contestants planning to file a lawsuit against the show — and seeking a $25 million payday — it’s interesting to note that Jermaine Jones, the contestant who might have a legitimately litigious gripe, refuses to play that game.
“I think they are going a little overboard,” the season 11 alum, who was disqualified after making the Top 11, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Those purportedly suing include Corey Clark (season two), Jaered Andrews (season two), Jacob John Smalley (season two), Donnie Williams (season three), Terrell Brittenum (season five), Derrell Brittenum (season five), Thomas Daniels ?(season six), Akron Watson (season six), Ju’Not Joyner (season eight), and Chris Golightly (season nine). They claim that the show illegally dug up arrest histories and used it to humiliate and defame the contestants on television.
Jones dismisses their allegations as “ludicrous.”
“Some of these cases are over 10 years old,” he argues. “What have you been doing since the show that you feel you deserve $25 million?”
The former contestants filed a petition earlier this year before the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. They made that move with the intention of requesting permission to go ahead with a lawsuit. The outcome of the proceedings aren’t known, and thus far, no complaint in any discrimination lawsuit against Fox or FremantleMedia, which produces the show, has been made public.
Any lawsuit would likely be defended on First Amendment grounds. In early 2012, an attempted class action lawsuit was attempted against ABC and Warner Horizon Television over alleged racial discrimination on The Bachelor. In that dispute, a group of Nashville residents contended that the principle roles in the hit reality series failed to feature non-white cast members. In October 2012, a judge dismissed the complaint on the grounds that casting decisions are a component of an entertainment show’s creative process and indisputably protected as free speech.
James H. Freeman, the attorney representing the contestants, hasn’t responded to THR’s request for comment.
As for Jones, the 26-year old New Jersey native maintains that the proper tactic is to use the Idol platform and brand to soldier on with your career. “Isn’t that the right thing to do? I am grateful for the exposure, the good and the bad,” he says, adding that when the suit first came up, the group tried to include him in the case — even threatening to subpoena him to testify. Jones, who was famously disqualified by now departed producers Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe when they learned he had outstanding warrants, said he wasn’t having it.
It’s all water under the bridge, as far as Jones is concerned. “God don’t like ugly,” he says. “You can’t win when you are ugly.”
And Jones is still singing — he just released a video for his song, “All Around The World” with producer-songwriter Scott Shavoni Parker (watch below) and will head to New York City this Sunday to audition for The Voice.
“I want to be on either Adam Levine’s team or Cee Lo Green’s team,” he says. Take heed, season six hopefuls: Jones may bust out some Whitney Houston — a perennial problem for female contestants — in his bid to return to television. “You have to take the hand you are dealt and make something out of it,” he says.
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