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'American Idol' Sued, Accused of Racial Smear Tactics TMZ

"American Idol" has been hit with a lawsuit filed by 10 former contestants from various seasons of the Fox singing competition, TMZ.com reports. The contestants, who are black, allege they were unfairly booted from the show because of their race.

They're suing for at least $25 million each, the story says.

"The contestants have accused producers of conducting a 'cruel and inhumane' scheme to exploit them for ratings by illegally digging up their arrest histories and using the records to humiliate them on national TV," TMZ reports. "The contestants [are] Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Jacob John Smalley (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)."

The report adds: "The contestants' lawyer claims the show used the arrest info to make his clients appear to be 'violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants' ... when they weren't. In fact, none had ever even been convicted of the charges stemming from their arrests.

"Worse, the lawyer claims ONLY black people were ever probed about their alleged criminal pasts ... never white people."

The 10 men are accusing the show of discrimination and other issues, and reportedly want "American Idol" to launch anti-racism policies.

"Not only do the contestants feel they got the shaft, they claim their lives have been ruined by the show's racist portrayals," TMZ adds.

Representatives for Fox and show producer FremantleMedia were not commenting, the piece notes.