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Florida instructor files discrimination charge against TV show. (faculty lounge).

MIAMI -- The Fox network's television series "American Idol" violated anti-discrimination laws when its producers wouldn't let a 50-year-old college professor audition because he was too old, his attorney said.

"I find it hard to believe that age plays a part in determining the next American Idol," said Drew Cummings, a visiting professor of film and television at Miami-Dade Community College. "Age discrimination runs rampant in the entertainment industry and corporate America. It's time that someone did something about it."

Cummings' attorney, Frederick Kramer, said the charge would spark an investigation by the Florida Commission on Human Relations, the state agency charged with pursuing anti-discrimination claims.

Yet FCHR spokesman Eugene Morris said the agency has no record of Cummings' discrimination charge and would not investigate such a claim.

"In order for a case to come our way, it would need to have something to do with employment, housing, public accommodations or certain private club memberships," Morris said.

Morris said the FCHR generally does not investigate claims generated in connection with television programs.

Kramer also said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will review the charge, which he claims was filed in state and federal court. EEOC attorney Mike Farrell said confidentiality rules prevent the organization from confirming or denying any investigation.

Cummings did not return several messages left at his home and on his cell phone. Kramer also did not return a telephone message.

Kramer declined a request to provide The Associated Press with a copy of the discrimination charge and would not specifically say where the charge was filed.

A secretary in the office of Fox spokesman Scott Grogan said the network would respond to Cummings' claim.

Fox had several eligibility requirements for those attempting to audition for the show, including that they be between the ages of 16 and 24. It is not known if Cummings knew of the age requirement before attempting to audition for the show in Miami Beach on Nov. 2.

A Miami-Dade Community College spokeswoman said Cummings claims to have produced, written and directed credits for several shows, including "Bill Nye The Science Guy" and "Entertainment Tonight," on his resume.

Cummings' resume says that he has produced live music and comedy specials for HBO, Showtime and A&E, Miami-Dade spokeswoman Beverly Rodrigues said.

The second edition of "American Idol" recently premiered on the Fox network.

The talent show's co-executive producer, Ken Warwick, has said 70,000 people nationwide auditioned for "American Idol 2," after the program's first edition proved to be a smashing success last summer.
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Title Annotation:'American Idol'; age discrimination
Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Feb 17, 2003
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