TV Article

'Idol' Threat

50-year-old threatens to sue ''Idol'' for age bias -- Fox's music contest bars singers over the age of 24

Drew Cummings says he spent several hours last November waiting in line to audition at Miami's open call for ''American Idol'' contestants, only to be told he fell a little outside the rules' stipulation that aspiring Kellys and Justins fall between the ages of 16 and 24. Cummings is 50. Now, he says in a statement issued over the weekend, he's filing age-discrimination complaints against Fox and the show's producers with the Florida Commission on Human Relations and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

''I find it hard to believe that age plays a part in determining the next 'American Idol,''' said Cummings, a visiting professor of film and TV at Miami-Dade Community College. ''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.''

Fox and ''Idol'' producer FremantleMedia have declined to comment, saying they haven't received copies of the complaint. In fact, it's not clear that anyone has seen the complaint. FCHR spokesman Eugene Morris tells the St. Petersburg Times that his agency has not seen a filing from Cummings and would not investigate such a claim. Asked by the Associated Press for a copy of the filing, Frederick Kramer, Cummings' attorney, declined to provide one or state where the charge was filed.

If Cummings has filed a federal complaint, he may face an even more abrupt dismissal than he might have in front of Simon Cowell. EEOC attorney Jacqueline McNair told the New York Daily News that Cummings' claim isn't the sort of complaint the commission investigates. ''This doesn't sound like he's alleging employment discrimination, and those are the laws that we enforce,'' she said.

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Originally posted Jan 22, 2003