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Vasquez bows out of ‘Idol’

Fan favorite bids adieu to auds

An early frontrunner in this season’s “American Idol” has ankled the competish just days after making it into show’s final round of 12.

Mario Vasquez, the Latino heartthrob who won fans with his smooth renditions of Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do” and the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” “has withdrawn from the competition for personal reasons,” Fox announced Sunday afternoon. A Fox spokesman refused further comment.

With Vasquez out, producers decided to reinstate Nikko Smith, who was cut from the competition last week after failing to garner enough fan votes to make it into the top 12. Fox and the show’s producers wasted no time erasing Vasquez from the show’s Web site: By 1 p.m. PST Sunday, Smith had already replaced Vasquez.

It’s not the first time an “Idol” finalist has left the show, though Vasquez may be the first to leave of his own accord.

Two years ago, Corey Clark made it to the show’s top 10, but was asked to leave after allegations surfaced that he had assaulted his teen sister. And soul diva Frenchie Davis was booted from the top 32 after it was revealed she had appeared on a soft-core porn Web site.

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