Mario Vazquez Saga Update

Mario Vazquez, who created a huge buzz when he abruptly quit the American Idol competition after having been named a finalist, has hired Clay Aiken’s attorney to get him out of the deal. It seems he already has an album out and would prefer not to pay the exorbitant commission to Idol required by his contract.

Ex-‘Idol’ Hires Clay’s Lawyer (Fox News)

“Personal reasons” be damned. The secret is out (and so is the album). Mario Vazquez, the guy who suddenly quit “American Idol” last week, has been “Clayed,” or should I say, “Aiwakened?” He’s hired former “Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken’s high-powered record-industry lawyer. And he may have jeopardized his “amateur” status by being featured on an album that’s already been released.

Vazquez, I’ve learned, has gotten Atlanta entertainment lawyer Jess L. Rosen to represent him. Coincidentally — or not, depending on how you look at it — Rosen is most famous for extricating Aiken from his octopus-tentacled “American Idol” management contract with Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment last year.


Someone else will have to decide if that CD violated the “American Idol” rules. The show’s Web site states: “In order to be eligible, the contestants are not permitted to have any CURRENT recording or talent-management agreements.”

In leaving the show, Vasquez was obviously convinced of the value of bowing out now rather than continuing through the needless process of competition. Aiken would be his role model. After losing “American Idol” to Ruben Studdard, Aiken realized that he was stuck with a management contract that kept him with Fuller, the show’s owner, for years to come at a very high commission. Rosen got him out of it and moved him over to Jeff Kwatinetz’s behemoth agency, The Firm.

The Vasquez album can apparently be listened to online.

I’d never heard of Vasquez until news of his resignation and haven’t watched Idol since the Aiken-Studdard competition. Still, this is an interesting brouhaha.

I don’t know enough about contract law to understand how Aiken was able to secure his release from an agreement he voluntarily signed. Surely, the publicity from the show is what catapulted him to stardom; it’s not unreasonable that the show’s producers should share in some of the riches that come from that.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Popular Culture, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kate says:

    Rumor has it Aiken was able to get out of his management contract due to conflict of interest, because he was able to prove that they were putting his interests behind those of the American Idol season 3 contestants*. He is still tied to them via his record contract with RCA, so don’t worry that poor lil old Simon Fuller is getting nothing from him. If they’d played fair in the first place, he’d probably still be with them.

    *the conflicts I heard were that they canceled a TV appearance so Aiken could host Fantasia’s hometown party during the AI3 finale (the appearance would have been opposite the finale), and that they deliberately scheduled his summer 2004 tour in out of the way places so it wouldn’t compete with the AI3 tour.

  2. Caren says:

    It’s nothing wrong with Simon and Co. sharing the riches of Idol finalists, but there should be the standard. Most managers take anywhere from 15% to 25%, Simon Fuller takes much more than that (rumor to be 45% to 50%), and these kids have to pay their own expenses, lawyers, assistants, taxes, etc. They won’t be taking much home. BTW, Simon Fuller makes millions from the TV show already. I won’t be crying for him, or for the Idol judges and Ryan Seacrest. They have their contracts renegotiated after the 2nd season and they’re all making millions.

  3. sadie says:

    Well, the split between Aiken and 19 was before the summer tour. No AI grad is supposed to tour when the season tour is on. Studdard and Clarkson had to stop touring for the summer. I believe they both have changed management since then.
    The Fantasia Finale was also after the deal was done, but Aiken had to honor the commitments made by 19 before he left.
    There were documented conflicts of interest, however. The one that I know of was the rule that, initially, Aiken could not be invited on a show unless Studdard, who won, was invited on first or at the same time – he had the right of refusal. David Letterman has discussed that requirement. His answer was not to invite either. So Aiken’s management had a conflict of interest between their two clients and could not work in the best interest of both.

  4. Jamie says:

    Actually, Aiken had to cancel an appearance on Larry King Live in order to appear on an AI3 results show. I would think that that is somehow connected to his split with 19.

    The rumor which I heard was that 19 turned down an endorsement offer without even informing Aiken, which was a breach of the contract. He found out about it somehow, and 19 simply released him from most of the contract rather than face a lawsuite. I have no idea how accurate any of that information is, though.

  5. John says:

    It is silly for anyone here to complain about Simon’s cut of the contestant’s earnings. They would not have these earnings if not for the show and would likely NEVER EVER have got a recording contract.

    The 90 days the losers and 1 year the winner is under this “semi” rigid contract is NOTHING compared to the dues almost all ohers in the industry have had to pay.

    With that said, I certainly cannot fault any contestant for looking out for their own interests.

  6. Denise says:

    Your right! You can listen to Mario Vazquez on-line. He had at least 3 tracks on an album called “World’s of Change” by Cesar a flamenco guitarist. I guess he’s not quite the amateur that AI requires him to be. For those of you interested the album is pretty good for those interested in a latin pop flavor meets Santana. Just do a search for the album name and you get the site…you can listen to the whole album on-line. Mario probably used the AI show to get his face out there…he already seemed to have other deals/offers in the works.