Ancient Idols

Meet the 50-year-old American Idol washout.


American Idol's second season premieres tonight, which, if you watch any FOX television at all, you well know. During the past few days, the channel has run dozens of promos for the show. Fortunately, they highlight American Idol's most entertaining moments: the truly awful, cat-eats-magpie auditions, followed by judge Simon Cowell's imperious putdowns.

Here's an audition that we didn't see, but might have: a 50-year-old college professor, strutting his stuff and getting jiggy with Beyoncé's latest. Now that's material Simon could have worked with.

Turns out that American Idol had the opportunity for such an audition, but shortsightedly turned it down. Paula Abdul, can you spell regret? Not only was the loss to the entertainment consumer dire, but now a certain 50-year old professor is suing the producers for age discrimination, which is barred under state and federal laws, reports CNN and The Guardian. Apparently, the contest rules clearly state contestants must be between 16 and 24 to audition.

Drew Cummings, a professor of film and television at Miami-Dade Community College's School of Entertainment Technologies, is also president of the Alternative Entertainment Network, a company that produces video content for Web streaming, including shorts of the ultra-hip Bill Nye the Science Guy. Publicity stunt, anyone?

Cummings says he's concerned about "rampant" age discrimination in 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 says.

Cummings is actually right; rampant age discrimination does exist in arenas where age doesn't need to be an issue. Problem is, American Idol is most decidedly not one of those arenas. Cummings' laughable lawsuit against the show only makes the age discrimination complaint look like more silly bleats from fuzzy, graying boomers. He might as well complain that no one over 25 has recently made the cover of Seventeen magazine.

But is it possible that Cummings is engaged in a hilarious self-parody? This comment almost suggests it: "I find it hard to believe that age plays a part in determining the next 'American Idol,'" says his press 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."

Well, d'oh. Next up: Cummings forgets his old fogey case and instead launches a lawsuit against the entertainment industry for unfairly favoring artists with the names Bruce, Mick, or Paul.