finalist Mario quits American Idol 4 for “personal reasons,” is replaced by Nikko.

finalist Mario quits American Idol 4 for “personal reasons,” is replaced by Nikko.
Mario Vazquez, one of American Idol 4‘s more popular contestants, has withdrawn from the competition. FOX cites “personal reasons” for his decision, which is unexpected to say the least. USA TODAY reports that “[a]t a Fox party Wednesday to honor the 12 finalists, Vazquez gave no hint that anything was amiss.” So why did he leave? The New York Post says that Mario told TV Guide, “I’m healthy, I’m fine. It’s just a personal family thing. My family is my top priority.” But his mother, upset at the news, told The Post that she had no idea what he was talking about. “I don’t know his reasons, but whatever they are, I respect him for it and will be very supportive,” she said. His brother said Mario “said, ‘This is not a life-threatening situation. It’s for the best reasons. But I can’t talk about why.’” Juicee News Daily cites “inside sources” who say “that Mario was unhappy and felt like this was not the place for him. He was having a difficult time in many areas and although he appreciated this opportunity, he chose to leave immidiately [sic].” Ignoring the credibility of a web site that lacks spell check, this makes little sense, since he stuck it out until this part of the competition.

A press release issued by FOX says only that “[r]ecently eliminated semifinalist Nikko Smith has rejoined AMERICAN IDOL as Top 12 contestant Mario Vazquez has withdrawn from the competition for personal reasons. Smith was chosen to return because he received more votes than Travis Tucker during last week’s competition, when the men were reduced from 8 to 6 performers. He joins the competition immediately and will compete as a member of the Top 12.” That group now consists of Anthony, Anwar, Bo, Carrie, Constantine, Jessica, Lindsey, Mikalah, Nadia, Nikko, Scott, and Vonzell.

Perhaps coincidentally, a reader tells reality blurred about censorship in the show’s official online forums in discussions about the sexual orientation of the competitors, specifically Mario. “There is a huge discussion brewing over would-be superstar Mario Vazquez, but it’s blocked every time it comes up,” the reader says. Current discussions about Mario’s withdrawl are littered with deleted posts as if someone has gone through them with a machete. And a search through the forum’s past posts reveals dozens of items with headlines such as “Reasons I think Mario is gay” and “I think he’s gay too,” all of which have been deleted.

Additionally, this news comes just days after’s Chris Thomas reported that the site “found one source who swears Mario used to go to gay youth dances ten years ago,” and reports about “bloggers claiming they had seen Mario in New York gay clubs.” These revelations came in a story about the show’s “gay problem.” Thomas writes, “The show inevitably attracts gay contestants, yet the producers seem unwilling to openly embrace them. A couple have subsequently come out after their stint on American Idol, but none have competed as openly gay, despite the persistent rumors.”

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In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.