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Florida man sues 'American Idol'

College professor, 50, alleges age discrimination


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MIAMI BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- They're twentysomethings looking to become a star.

But what's wrong with a fiftysomething seeking stardom?

A 50-year-old college professor is suing producers of the TV show "American Idol" and the Fox Network, alleging age discrimination after he says he was denied the chance to audition to compete on the show.

Drew Cummings, a professor of film and television at Miami-Dade Community College's School of Entertainment Technologies, filed the suit based on federal and state laws barring age discrimination. He said he attended the open audition in Miami Beach in November, waited in line several hours, and was ultimately turned away and told he was too old to be considered for the show.

"I find it hard to believe that age plays a part in determining the next 'American Idol,'" Cummings said in a news release. "According to record industry statistics, 55 percent of all record sales and 65 percent of all concert tour revenues were dominated by artists over the age of 40."

According to eligibility rules for the program, people must be between 16 and 24 to audition. The rules also say producers may disqualify anyone from the auditions for any reason.

Representatives of Fox and FremantleMedia, which produces the program, could not be reached for comment Sunday night.

News of Cummings' lawsuit came two days before the premiere of the second season of "American Idol."

Cummings said he is filing the suit to fight what he called "rampant" age discrimination in the entertainment industry and corporate America.

"If by filing these charges I become the poster child for baby boomers' and age discrimination rights, that's fine with me," he said.

His lawyer, Frederick Kramer, said he is also considering legal action against the Federal Communications Commission.

"Mr. Cummings was summarily denied the right to compete, and he was discriminated against solely because of his age, not his ability as a singer," Kramer said.

In addition to teaching at the college, Cummings is president of the Alternative Entertainment Network, which produces original streaming video content. He has been a producer, writer and director of TV programs including "Bill Nye the Science Guy," "Entertainment Tonight" and "That's Incredible."

More than 10,000 people nationwide vied last year for a chance to compete on "Idol," a judged singing competition that pared down contestants each week. Viewers watched as the singers were eliminated; judges picked a winner from the remaining three singers in the season finale.


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