'Idol' Defector Mario Gets Big Deal

Mario Vazquez | Lennon Play

Mario's Scheme Works

You may recall the story about Mario Vazquez, the kid who bolted mid-season from "American Idol" last winter. He'd been convinced by his lawyer — the same lawyer who represented Clay Aiken — to leave the show rather than stay and sign a management contract with the "Idol" producers.

I can tell you now that the strategy worked. Mario, according to my sources, has signed a lucrative deal with legendary record executive Clive Davis and Davis' J Records.

Even better: Vazquez will be managed by another legend, Arnold Steifel, the man who has guided Rod Stewart's rocketing career for over 30 years.

The deal will be announced right after Labor Day, sources tell me. But no time is being wasted: even as we speak, Vazquez is in the studio recording tracks under Davis' watchful eye.

This news should be a big deal for several reasons: If Vazquez had stayed on "American Idol" and won — which he likely would have done — he would have wound up on J Records anyway.

The main difference is now he won't have to live under a management agreement with 19 Entertainment and Simon Fuller.

Fuller doesn't look so good in this deal, but you never know. Perhaps sensing an end to "American Idol" madness, he sold his company for millions of dollars earlier this year.

And there's a rumor that "Idol" winners will no longer record for J Records. Fuller is said to be shopping around for a new home.

Davis, as usual, comes out on top. He has the next big pop star and is off the hook if "Idol" is indeed on the wane.

'Lennon' Crashes and Burns

It doesn't give me a huge sense of satisfaction that "Lennon" the musical was eviscerated by theater critics on Sunday night. But this column was the first to tell you how bad it was three weeks ago.

Check out my report on attending the show with John Lennon's longtime love, May Pang. Right after that, New York magazine interviewed Pang about seeing the show as if she went alone! That was very amusing.

What was not amusing was the trashing of Lennon in that show. "Lennon" will likely close quickly, and it should. But what a shame that a great opportunity was blown away, thanks to the shortsightedness of its creators.

At this rate there will probably never be a Broadway show that accurately tells the story of the Beatles or Lennon. That may be just as well.