TMZ.com reports that Season 4 "American Idol" finalist Mario Vazquez is facing accusations that he tried to masturbate in front of a male employee in a bathroom on the set of the hit show in February 2005.
Shortly thereafter, Vazquez mysteriously dropped out of "Idol," citing personal reasons. According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and obtained by TMZ, Vazquez allegedly "sexually harassed" Magdaleno Olmos, assistant accountant for Fremantle Media, the company that produces American Idol. In the lawsuit, Olmos claims "Vazquez stared lasciviously, smiled lasciviously and on one occasion followed him into a bathroom ... knocked on the door of the plaintiff's stall and made eye contact through the space in the stall door.
The lawsuit alleges that Vazquez "started to rub his genitals over his pants. Attempting to leave the bathroom, Olmos opened the door of the stall and saw Vazquez standing in front of him with his pants down masturbating."
According to the documents, Vazquez pushed Olmos "further into the stall and continued masturbating with one hand and trying to pull down Olmos' pants with another hand." Olmos claims that he tried to "cover his body with his hands" but Vazquez touched his "chest and stomach underneath his shirt, and Olmos' "genitals" as Vazquez "attempted to unzip" Olmos' pants. Vazquez then allegedly asked Olmos "if he wanted oral sex."
In the lawsuit, Olmos claims that as he "managed to get out of the stall, and attempted to leave the bathroom," Vazquez, grabbed his arm "in an effort to stop him." Vazquez continued to call Olmos to come back as Vazquez "stood in the bathroom with his pants still down."
In addition to suing Vazquez, Olmos has named Fox Entertainment and Fremantle Media as defendants in his lawsuit for wrongful termination. Calls to Vazquez's attorney have not yet been returned.
BACK TO THE FUTURE?
Many viewers are upset by the disadvantage the strong group of female semi-finalists faced this season, since only six of them could make it to the finals, when even the judges admitted that no more than four of the guys were even good enough to be considered for one the 12 finalist positions.
And the show's producers listened. When Ryan Seacrest asked executive producer Nigel Lythgoe if it was true that there had been behind-closed-doors meetings by the producers to consider adjusting the Top 6, and the Top 6 making the Top 12, so it wouldn't necessarily be even, Lythgoe responded, "Yeah, in truth, we did discuss it and we thought that this season that wouldn't be fair on the guys, but we might put that in as a rule next season and say, you know, if we get to this situation, possibly the girls deserve better places." You can listen to the interview here.
This season is very similar to Season 3, only the equal number of each sex rule didn't apply back then. Otherwise known as "The Year of the Divas," eight woman and four men made it to the finals. And the lot of men that year -- Matt Rogers, George Huff, Jon Peter Lewis and John Stevens -- were even a weaker lot than this year's male contenders. And what a group of females they faced: eventual winner Fantasia Barrino, runner-up Diana DeGarmo, LaToya London, Jennifer Hudson, Amy Adams, Jasmine Trias and weak links Leah LaBelle and Camile Velasco.
CLASSIC IDOL VIDEO
Clay Aiken singing "Solitaire"
INSIDE TAYLOR'S TOUR BUS
The Birmingham News checked out the tour bus of native son Taylor Hicks. Hicks curls up at night in the middle bunk, driver's side, of a 2007 Prevost XLII, where he has a DVD player with a small, drop-down screen. "I love it," he says. "It's amazing the way the bus moves. I pull the curtain and it's dark, and the hum of the engine puts me to sleep."
His cushy silver-gray rental vehicle sells for more than $1 million. "This is my home on the road. I sleep here. I eat here. I work on songs here. I do phone interviews here. I play on the computer here. I do everything here." His bunk has a cream-colored phone attached to the wall that connects him directly with the driver.
Eight working musicians ride the Prevost - that's Hicks and seven band members - as well as tour assistant Bill Williams, a pal of Hicks' from Birmingham. Crew members ride on a similar bus. The convoy also includes an 18-wheeler, with a red Peterbilt cab and a white cargo trailer that contains the heavy-duty tour gear.
Hicks said he likes the idea of living on a "swanky bachelor bus" designed for comfort and efficiency. The bus boasts an expandable front lounge and roomy back lounge, gleaming wood paneling, faux-granite countertops, several squishy couches, privacy shades, a bathroom, a kitchenette, a couple of flat-panel televisions, a stereo or two and about 14 DVD players, carpeting, a decent-sized refrigerator with a freezer and ample storage space, including two mirrored closets for Hicks' on- and off-stage wardrobes.
One modern convenience is missing, however: a shower. "I use hotels and venues for that," Hicks says. Two of the 12 bunks lining the middle of the bus are "junk bunks," where Hicks and his band members stash extra food, T-shirts, gaming equipment and gifts from fans.
"My favorite seat is the one next to the driver," he says. "I spent my life as a musician driving myself from show to show, dreaming about riding in the front seat of a tour bus. In the middle of the night, I get up and sit here, or I stand here, looking out. It's beautiful at night."
And just in case you're wondering, here's what Taylor Hicks and his band keep in the tour bus refrigerator: Coca-Cola, Red Bull, water, Honest Tea, Heineken, cold cuts, hummus, Wickles gourmet pickles, mustard, Starbucks coffee and meatless sausages. Check please!
HUDSON PUSHES PRODUCT
We don't know if she uses Skin So Soft, but Jennifer Hudson has landed a deal with its manufacturer -- Avon Products Inc. -- to represent its best-selling Imari fragrance brand. Under the agreement, the 25-year-old singer will serve as the "face of Imari," including appearing in the company's brochures for both the 20-year-old classic Imari fragrance and its newest scent Imari Seduction.
Hudson made her first Avon appearance last week at a first of its kind "global summit for a better tomorrow" at the United Nations in Manhattan. Hudson called the opportunity "a dream come true." "It's exciting to be representing the Imari brand, which really embodies confidence and femininity," she said of her newest venture. Avon plans to make a U.S. launch of Imari Seduction in August.
And according to TMZ.com, Hudson will have it her way ... forever at Burger King. Responding to Hudson's Burger King comment directed at Simon Cowell, the fast-food emporium assured her that no thanks was necessary and, in fact, awarded Hudson a whopper -- BK for life:
"...In response to Jennifer's recent comments in which she asked if she should be thanking Burger King, we say thanks, but no thanks are necessary. Burger King Corporation is proud of Jennifer's success and while we never like to lose employees, in this case, our loss is the entertainment industry's gain ... To further show our support for Jennifer, and make sure she never has to sing for her supper again, Burger King Corporation is giving her a pre-paid BK Crown Card that will be automatically reloaded for life."
Hudson worked at the BK on East 87th and State streets in Chicago. Burger King was her first job at age 16, where she worked with her sister, who claims she sang while working the drive-thru and flipping burgers.
HARD TO SAY GOODBYE
TVGuide.com asked the finalists "Who has been the hardest goodbye so far?"
Gina Glocksen: For me it would be my roommate [Leslie Hunt]. She lived in the same city as I do, in Chicago, and we formed a bond during the hiatus.
Chris Sligh: For me, Rudy [Cardenas]. We met at our first audition in Memphis. And Sundance [Head] ... was really, really tough to say goodbye to.
Blake Lewis: Sundance. He was a really great friend to me. I loved him, I loved his voice … [On Thursday] he experienced a tragic loss in his family, as well, which makes the whole competition seem like a really small deal. My heart really goes out to him.
Melinda Doolittle: Pretty much everybody, because I’m kind of the older one here, so I’m like the mama and these are my babies going home, and I can’t stand it!
Jordin Sparks: I’ve grown to love a ton of people, but it was really hard to say goodbye to Sundance and Jared [Cotter].
Brandon Rogers: I love everybody, but the difficult one was Jared. He and I became very close, and that’s my boy. I don’t know if the camera showed it, but Jordin and I were sort of the first two in tears. I really didn’t expect it. I think he’s a great singer, a fantastic songwriter and a really great guy.
LaKisha Jones: Everybody, really, because we’ve been together for a while and everybody’s good and everybody’s talented. I wish everybody the best of luck.
Chris Richardson: For me, AJ [Tablado]. He was my roommate and my best friend here, and it was really hard to see him go, but like LaKisha said, it’s so hard to let go of anybody, because you do become a family.
Sanjaya Malakar: Amy [Krebs]. We were representing Seattle, plane buddies and all, so that was really hard, and I really admired her for her voice. Her tone was really pure.
Stephanie Edwards: Antonella was my roommate and I loved her. We were becoming so close. I cried like a baby.
YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES
UPI reports that Jennifer Hudson said in an interview in Burbank, Calif., that she wanted to do the Jackie Robinson story. "The story of Robinson, the first African-American player in Major League Baseball, tells of greatness and our history; that means something to me," Hudson said in an interview on "Access Hollywood." The untitled, still-in-development Jackie Robinson biography is being produced by Robert Redford who will play Brooklyn Dodger's general manager Branch Rickey, the man who signed Robinson to a big league contract.
The Hollywood Reporter announces that Season 5 finalist Kevin Covais is about to give acting a try with a lead role in the feature film "College." Covais will star alongside Drake Bell and Andrew Caldwell in the film, which is about three high school seniors who visit a nearby college campus as prospective freshmen and wind up having the wildest weekend in their lives.
THE LAST WORD
Talking about the finalist results, Simon Cowell said, "Tons of surprises, but it wouldn’t be 'American Idol' without it, would it … At the end of the day, I could go out and find 12 great singers, but that's kind of boring. The fact that there's people there who shouldn't be there makes it 'American Idol.' " Cowell is actually hoping for a "battle of the divas," with Melinda Doolittle edging out LaKisha Jones and Stephanie Edwards. "I like her humility," he said of professional backup singer Doolittle. "I like the fact that she’s happy to be on the show and she's giving 100 percent. She’s got passion." But, perish the thought, what if Sanjaya Malakar won, Simon was asked. "He's not going to win. I won't be back if he does!"
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