Ex-Idol Mario Vazquez Reunites with His Dad

Mario Vazquez shocked American Idol fans by dropping out of the competition last year – but weeks earlier, he gave one special viewer a different kind of emotional jolt. After a 16-year separation, Vazquez’s father, Mario Rivera, was channel-surfing in his living room when he spotted his son on the show.

“He saw my audition tape and tripped out,” Vazquez tells PEOPLE. “He cried to my aunt, ‘Mario’s there! Mario’s there!’ ” Not long afterward – in that very living room – father and son reunited.

Mario Vazquez

Mario Vazquez is best known as the American Idol contestant who quit the show last year as he was heading into the Top 10. Now he’s looking to top that experience: The Bronx-bred singer, who’s signed to a major label, is releasing his debut album Sept. 12, and until Aug. 19, will be performing at shopping centers across the nation on the Teen People Rock ‘N Shop mall tour (on a bill with artists including Fefe Dobson and Ashley Parker Angel).

Idol Mario Vazquez Signs Record Deal

Mario Vazquez – the 28-year-old New York heartthrob who was favored to win this past season’s American Idol until he suddenly dropped out of the competition – has signed with J Records and is working on an album to be executive produced by recording legend Clive Davis, a label rep confirms to PEOPLE.

The album is due out in spring 2006. Sources at the label say Vazquez auditioned for Davis, BMG’s chairman, after American Idol’s fourth season ended in May.

Diddy Set to Sign Idol Dropout Mario?

The rumblings are growing even louder that American Idol early retiree Mario Vazquez has a newer, better recording contract in his back pocket – placed there by music mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.

“I can’t discuss that right now,” Combs, clearly not denying the prospect, tells the New York Post, adding: “We’re hopefully about to announce our plans for our next era.”

WEEK IN REVIEW: Demi Denies Baby Rumors

LESS MOORE: Demi Moore spoke out for the first time about persistent tabloid reports that she is pregnant, telling PEOPLE: “The rumors are just that: rumors.” While at the New York nightclub Marquee on Wednesday night, Moore, 42, and boyfriend Ashton Kutcher, 27, were the buzz of the VIP section. The couple tried to avoid addressing the baby talk, but when asked about the stories, Moore smiled and said they were “rumors.” Moore’s rep, Stephen Huvane, has also said: “Having another child is something Demi would like to do, but she cannot at this time say she is pregnant.”

Ex-Idol Mario Hires Clay Aiken's Lawyer

Despite Mario Vazquez’s protests that it wasn’t the binding American Idol contract that swayed him to quit the show last weekend – despite being the current season’s perceived frontrunner – he has hired high-powered attorney Jess L. Rosen, the same lawyer who helped AI pin-up boy Clay Aiken escape from his ironclad Idol contract, the Associated Press reports.

Neither Vazquez nor Rosen was available for comment Thursday, according to Vazquez’s publicist, Matt Shelton.

Mario's Idol Sub Is 'Horrible,' says Simon

American Idol aspirant Nikko Smith got his big break when he replaced frontrunner Mario Vazquez – who dropped out of the competition last weekend – but things didn’t look so great for the son of baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

The fill-in managed to survive Wednesday night’s elimination round, but Smith’s rendition of “I Want You Back” on Tuesday night was deemed “horrible” by judge Simon Cowell.

Mario's Idol Mystery Continues

The curiosity about frontrunner Mario Vazquez and his quitting American Idol continues, just as questions are arising as to when the 27-year-old Bronx crooner’s 15 minutes of fame might be over.

On Tuesday, Idol executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick said at a press conference that Vazquez explained his decision to them but that they would respect singer’s request to keep his reasons private.

Vazquez Dispels Theories on Quitting Idol

Even if Mario Vazquez had gone on to win American Idol, he probably couldn’t orchestrate as much publicity as he’s getting for walking off the show.

Citing unexplained personal reasons, Vazquez, the 27-year-old New York heartthrob picked as a favorite to win this season, unexpectedly dropped out of the competition over the weekend, just days after making the show’s final 12. Nikko Smith will replace him.

Idol Shocker: Contestant Quits Show

Mario Vazquez, the 27-year-old New York heartthrob who was picked as a favorite to win this season’s American Idol, has unexpectedly dropped out of the competition citing personal reasons, the FOX network announced Sunday.

Vazquez, who leaves just days after making the show’s final 12, will be replaced by Nikko Smith, who was cut from the competition last week.