It's been some time since American Idol
favorite Mario Vazquez left the contest for 'personal reasons', leaving a host of questions in his wake. When it was later suspected that Vazquez was homosexual and had been forced from the competition, Vazquez and American Idol
producers alike were incredulous, yet tight lipped on the mythological 'personal reasons' Vazquez had sited. Now, a former American Idol
employee is coming forward after being in two years of failed negotiations with American Idol over alleged sexual harassment from Vazquez, and the battle looks headed for court. If a trial exposes pressure on Vazquez to leave over the allegations, could it also expose more dirty back stage dealings involving the producers?
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American Idol has launched many careers aside from its winners, and as such it is not often you will hear a former contestant speak poorly of their experience on the show (unless they win an Oscar or something.) None the less, behind the sunny reminiscing of past contests lurks a grim array of rumors par to Hollywood Babylon's course. Everything from producers fudging edits to put words in contestants mouths, harassing contestants they want let go, all the way to the worst imaginable sin: cooking the books to keep certain people in the game.
The Vazquez situation threatens to bring all of these allegations to the surface. The suit is being brought by a former employee of Freemantle who claims that Vazquez made unwanted sexual advances towards him. This employee claims that he was told by American Idol producers that Vazquez would be let go from the show. Vazquez, and now American Idol attorneys, claim that Vazquez's actions were consented and even reciprocated, later twisted when the opportunity for a lawsuit presented itself.
Whether the charges are factual or not really isn't the most controversial part of this debacle. The worst aspect would be that Vazquez was forced to give up his shot over this without having his own 'day in court'. Based completely on one person's claim, Vazquez had to give up the chance of a lifetime to head off a controversy that may have ultimately been put to rest by the truth. And worse yet, he may have been coerced to say it was all his idea.
When, and if, the complaint makes its way to court you can expect every rumor you've ever heard of back stage manipulation to be brought to the stand in an attempt to prove that American Idol producers are the type of people that would allow this 'atrocity' to take place. To do any less would be to not pursue the case in earnest. Something tells me, though, that a big fat settlement check will ultimately make this all go away before the skeletons start falling out of American Idol's closets.
- Jon Lachonis, BuddyTV Senior Writer
Image Courtesy FOX