Plenty of “American Idol” rejects have wished out loud that they could take revenge on notoriously mean former lead judge Simon Cowell for his patented put-downs and hand-waving, eye-rolling dismissals.
But one former contestant on “Britain’s Got Talent” is taking her grievance to court. According to The Associated Press,, 2009 contestant Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai has filed a $3.8 million lawsuit against Cowell — who is also a judge on “Talent” — claiming that she was humiliated and degraded by him. Czikai, who is also suing the show, claims in her suit that Cowell is responsible for broadcasting her audition clip, despite her writing to him that health problems affected her performance.
Czikai, 54, said at a pre-hearing review in London on Thursday that she filed the suit in order to retain her “self-respect and dignity.” She appeared on the show last year singing Westlife’s “You Raise Me Up,” but was reportedly affected by an ailment, cervical spine neuritis, that caused painful swelling all over her body.
Cowell and fellow judge Piers Morgan hit their buzzers before she completed the first line of the song by the popular British boy band, while third judge Amanda Holden held out until the chorus. Morgan buzzed after just a few seconds of off-key opera-style warbling and Czikai, wearing a burgundy ball gown, gamely shot back at him, “I knew you’d do that!” She asked if she could start again, at which point Cowell buzzed her out just moments in as the audience began to loudly boo her.
London’s Daily Mail reported that she is also claiming “Talent” discriminated against her disability by not lowering the volume of the backing track and microphone levels.
“This program makes a select number of rich people very, very rich on the backs of the ordinary man and woman in the street through exploitation, humiliation, degradation and a re-emergence of modern-day barbarism with all its inherent cruelty,” the former nurse said during her court appearance. She explained that her ailment causes head and shoulder pain and affects her ability to hear her own singing voice in noisy environments like the audition room.
A previous complaint by Czikai with the British media regulation organization Ofcom was rejected.