By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 22, 2003 04:58 PM
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FOX’s ego-crushing talent show “American Idol,” returned with a vengeance Tuesday, as tart-tongued judge Simon Cowell told one hapless — and hopeless — candidate during the 90-minute second-season premiere, “If you lived 2,000 years ago and sang like that, I think they would have stoned you.”

To another: “Go back to your vocal coach and demand a refund.”

But Cowell isn’t the only one raising a voice of complaint. Drew Cummings, 50, a visiting professor of film and TV at Florida’s Miami-Dade Community College, has slapped an age-discrimination lawsuit against FOX and “Idol” producers after he was turned away from a Nov. 2 casting call.

According to show rules, contestants must be between the ages of 16 and 24 before Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson can judge them. (The survivor of the show’s talent hunt ends up with a lucrative record contract. Last season’s winner was 20-year-old Kelli Clarkson.)

A FOX spokesman tells both the New York Post and Daily News that network officials had yet to see Cummings’s legal complaint and therefore could not comment.

And though Cummings’s attorney, Frederick Kramer, took his client’s complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC attorney Jacqueline McNair told the News that her agency deals exclusively with complaints about job discrimination.

“This doesn’t sound like he’s alleging employment discrimination,” McNair said, “and those are the laws that we enforce.”