He may have been sent packing on "American Idol," but Corey Clark just can't let the show go. Now he's joining other former contestants in a voluminous lawsuit claiming that Fox's singing contest is racist.
Clark, now 33, is one of 10 plaintiffs suing former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, Fox and their corporate sponsors claiming that "Idol" used them "to scandal-monger Nielsen ratings while reinforcing the age-old stereotype of the 'black criminal.' "
The suit, whose initial pleading runs to more than 400 pages, alleges that "nefarious" producers followed a "continuing scheme to unlawfully obtain, disseminate and exploit the criminal history background information" of certain contestants such as Clark, which they then leaked to the media in a bid to foster scandals and goose viewership, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in New York.
Fans will remember Clark, who was booted from Season 2 after it was revealed that he had been charged with battery and resisting arrest during a domestic dispute. Producers said he was let go because he had not disclosed the arrest. Later Clark alleged that during the competition he had had an affair with judge Paula Abdul, a claim that Abdul denied and that a legal inquiry ordered up by Fox found groundless. (In the clip above, Clark sings "Foolish Heart" for the judges and then embraces Abdul afterward.)
Clark has since written a book about his "Idol" experience and is also involved in another lawsuit claiming that he was defamed by Fox and others over his hasty exit from the show.
And he's not the only ex-contestant who's had trouble disengaging from "Idol." Ju'Not Joyner, a Top 36 semifinalist from Season 8 who is also a plaintiff in this week's lawsuit, alleged as far back as 2009 that the show is a "rigged thing."
A spokesman for the producers said they had no comment. A Fox representative did not respond to an email.
The suit arrives during another time of transition for "Idol." Ratings continued to fall in the season that wrapped in May, and since then Lythgoe and Fox reality TV guru Mike Darnell have departed. Judges Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj also won't be back.
What do you think of "Idol's" latest dust-up?
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