Mario Vazquez quits 'American Idol', Fox names Nikko Smith as new finalist
By Reality TV World staff, 03/14/2005
American Idol 4 Top 12 finalist Mario Vazquez unexpectedly withdrew from the reality competition on Sunday, citing "personal reasons" in a statement released by Fox.
Mario, a 27-year-old New York City native who online oddsmakers had named as one of the favorites to win the talent competition, offered no additional explanation of his decision in the Fox statement. Reached by TV Guide on Sunday evening, Mario did somewhat elaborate on his decision, stating that he quit to "take care of some personal issues with my family in New York. And with Idol being a live show, it just wouldn't have worked out schedule-wise." "I'm healthy, I'm fine," he added. "It's just a personal family thing. My family is my top priority."
However Mario's own mother questions his "family thing" explanation, telling the New York Post that she knows of no family issues and has no idea why he quit the show. "Look at me, I'm fine, I'm still kicking," she told the paper. "I don't know his reasons, but whatever they are, I respect him for it and will be very supportive." "I'm really angry right now. I don't know why he quit. This is the first I am hearing of it," she added before breaking into sobs.
Mario's older brother Rich was also equally clueless as to the cause of his brother's departure. "He said, 'This is not a life-threatening situation. It's for the best reasons. But I can't talk about why," the older Vazquez told The Post.
As a result of Mario's withdrawal, Fox has announced that Nikko Smith, the son of Hall Of Fame baseball player Ozzie Smith, will replace him in American Idol's Final 12. Nikko had been eliminated from the competition during last week's results show. According to Fox, Nikki was selected because he received more votes than Travis Tucker, the other male semifinalist contestant who was eliminated as a result of the third round semifinals voting that determined Amiercan Idol's final twelve contestants.
In 2002, three American Idol 2 contestants, two semifinalists and one finalist, were disqualified from the competition. Final 32 semifinalist Jaered Andrews was disqualified for failing to disclose an assault arrest. His replacement, George Trice of Jackson, TN, did not make Idol 2's finalist cut. The show also booted semifinalist Frenchie Davis later in the semifinal rounds, citing the discovery that she had previously worked as a model for a faux kiddie porn website as the reason for her departure. Later in the competition, Corey Clark, one of American Idol 2's nine remaining finalists was also dismissed from the show for failing to disclose his pending battery charges.