Show will go on for 'Idol'
Los Angeles -- The show must go on, even without Mario Vazquez, "American Idol" producers said Tuesday.
Vazquez, among the 12 finalists picked by viewers, withdrew for undisclosed personal reasons and was replaced by Nikko Smith, son of Hall of Fame baseball player Ozzie Smith.
Executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick said Vazquez explained his decision to them, but they told a news conference they intended to respect the singer's request for privacy.
Fox's hit television talent contest, drawing close to 30 million viewers an episode in its fourth season, will weather the latest storm, Warwick said. "It is a reality show. ... This show is never without drama," he told The Associated Press. "It's just one of those things that happens."
On Monday, Vazquez tried to extinguish some of the rumors circulating about him, including the possibility of skeletons in his closet.
"Crazy," he called that in an interview with the AP.
"My gut and intuition told me it wasn't time to do this," Vazquez said. "I had to focus on some personal areas in my life with the little bit of privacy that I have."
He declined to comment on whether he was unhappy with the "American Idol" contract he and the other contestants signed two weeks ago and which industry observers have called restrictive.
Vazquez, a 27-year-old New Yorker, drew attention and votes with his smooth singing style and trademark hats, and his decision to quit "American Idol" took fans and fellow contestants by surprise.
He told the producers on Friday. There were tears when the other singers learned about it Saturday.
Warwick recounted that Vazquez, however, was quite composed, telling his fellow performers: "It's not the end of the world."
The others regained their composure, he said, and Smith, 22, of St. Louis, who had narrowly missed making the final dozen, stepped quickly into the void left by Vazquez.
But judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson were largely unhappy with the performances that were filmed Monday for airing Tuesday night.
"Randy particularly was pretty vitriolic," Warwick said.
He chalked it up to intimidation about working on a larger stage and with a full band for the first time, not to unhappiness over Vazquez.
Piano Man in for tuneup
In the wake of his hospitalization for stomach problems last month, Billy Joel has signed on for a stint in rehab to deal with a drinking problem.
"Following a recent bout of severe gastrointestinal distress, Billy Joel has checked himself into an undisclosed rehabilitation facility for treatment of alcohol abuse," his rep said in a statement. "Mr. Joel has asked that his privacy be respected."
Last month, the rep denied reports that Joel was suffering from pancreatitis, which is typically brought on by heavy alcohol consumption.
Arrest charges dropped
New York -- A Manhattan judge dismissed charges against Rosario Dawson and two others who were arrested while filming movie scenes near the location of last year's Republican National Convention.
Charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration were dismissed Tuesday by Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson. The charges were filed against Dawson, director Stephen Marshall and Viaja Grosgalves following their arrest near Madison Square Garden, site of the 2004 GOP convention.
Dawson's screen credits include "Men in Black II" and "Alexander."
The trio had been shooting scenes for "This Revolution" when they were seized Aug. 29, 2004, along with hundreds of anti-GOP protesters at 35th Street and Eighth Avenue.
Police said at the time that Dawson, 25, was wearing two handkerchiefs on her face with only her eyes showing and that the group had refused to move when police told them to. They were arrested after Marshall tried to show police a city film permit.
'Little Women' to hit road
New York -- Maureen McGovern, who plays the mother of four spirited daughters in the Broadway production of "Little Women," will take the musical on the road when it begins its 30-city national tour this summer.
McGovern, best known for her recording of the Oscar-winning song "The Morning After," plays Marmee in the show, which stars Sutton Foster as Jo, the lively daughter who wants to become a writer.
The musical, based on Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, starts its tour in San Diego, Aug. 30-Sept. 4. It will later play cities such as San Jose, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Washington. Exact dates and more cities will be announced.
Burbank, Calif. -- Former "Baywatch" actress Alexandra Paul and another woman were arrested at an environmental group's vigil meant to save General Motors' EV1 electric cars.
On Monday, Paul and Colette Divine were in a car that blocked the path of trucks hauling the cars to Arizona to be destroyed, police said. Both women were booked on suspicion of failing to obey an officer. They were released on their own recognizance.
GM, which says the cars never became popular enough to turn a profit, has declined the environmental group's offer to pay $1.9 million for the vehicles. The company said the cars must be destroyed because there isn't enough supply of the car's 2,000 parts. That could make the vehicles unsafe and lead to lawsuits, GM contends.