Fantasia Barrino's life pre-American Idol may not have been a fairy tale, but according to her father, the book about her life includes some parts that are pure fiction.
The American Idol winner's dad, Joseph Barrino, sued publisher Simon & Schuster for $10 million Tuesday, alleging that the 2005 memoir Fantasia: Life Is Not a Fairytale contains "false, exaggerated, sensational, intentional and malicious untruths."
Joe Barrino, a truck driver and a musician himself, is claiming that, although his daughter is listed as the book's author, it was the singer's grandmother, pastor Addie Collins, who actually penned the story. The details that granny supposedly fudged include a description of Joe Barrino as being hostile to the music industry, a part where he asks his daughter for money, and the suggestion that his children's music careers were more important to him than their education. (Fantasia has three brothers and their parents, Joe and Diane, are still married.)
In Life Is Not a Fairytale, which was recently made into a Lifetime biopic starring the author-on-record herself, Barrino provides a first-person account of her life, from her poverty-stricken upbringing in North Carolina to becoming a single mother at 17 to winning the Idol crown in 2004. She discusses being raped as a teenager by a high school classmate and also discloses that she was functionally illiterate, memorizing the songs that she was scheduled to perform by ear, rather than by reading the lyrics, and improvising her way through some of Idol's scripted portions.
"The unfortunate publication of Fantasia's life story by Simon & Schuster seeks to capitalize on her American Idol success through disparaging certain members of her family," Joe Barrino's attorney, Kendall Minter, said in a statement. "The lawsuit seeks to redress these wrongs and restore the integrity of the family members."
Just how certain episodes of Barrino's life really played out has already been an issue. Fox objected to a scene in Lifetime's small-screen adaptation of her bio in which an Idol producer oh-so-gently informs Barrino of the chatter swirling about her being a high school dropout and unwed mother. The fictional producer then sensitively informs the then-19-year-old that no one would blame her for dropping out of the competition.
Fox declared the scene to be a "complete fabrication." Besides, in addition to being sleazy, it also would have been shoddy business. Barrino's debut album, Free Yourself, was nominated for four Grammys and her first single, "I Believe," spent 11 weeks atop the Billboard 100.
News of the lawsuit comes as Life Is Not a Fairytale's ghostwriter, Kim Green, spoke out to Radar Online saying she would like some recognition for her contribution to the book, which sold nearly 50,000 copies and made the New York Times bestseller list.
"I want people to know that I wrote that book," says Green, who was reportedly paid $45,000 for her efforts.
Green tells Radar Online that she decided to come forward and publicly demand acknowledgment after not being asked to consult on the Lifetime biopic and the indignity of having to actually buy a ticket to a recent Fantasia concert in Atlanta.
But with Joe Barrino's lawsuit pending, Green's timing might be a little off.
As for Fantasia, the 22-year-old songbird is set to release her sophomore effort, tentatively titled Young Girl, Old Soul, and featuring a duet with über-diva Aretha Franklin, Nov. 28.