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Pia Toscano, post-'American Idol': A date with Mark Ballas? A record deal?

April 12, 2011 | 12:01 pm

MB1_4358 If anyone out there has been feeling guilty about devouring all the rumors about Pia Toscano's personal life (a date with "Dancing With the Stars" pro Mark Ballas! And with his mother!) and professional life (a record deal!) since her unexpected elimination from "American Idol" last week, absolve yourselves:

"I really asked myself before I auditioned, 'Am I going to be able to handle everyone talking about my personal life?'" Pia told People on Monday. "And I am and that comes with the territory of this whole business." She added, "I guess if you're being talked about it's a flattering thing. It's a good thing that people want to know more about you so I'm OK with it." 

So then Pia won't mind if I report that she and Ballas are playing down the romance rumors after TMZ ran an awkward, yet also button-cute video of them leaving Gulfstream restaurant in Century City together. (The two reportedly met because her "Idol" trailer and his "DWTS" trailer were near each other.)

"Mark is a really sweet guy," Toscano told People. "We went out with a group of friends. He's just a really good friend, I guess." She added that, because Ballas is also on a show in which he is judged every week, he has been able to offer her advice and support, noting, "It's nice to have him in my corner."

Ballas, meanwhile, said Pia has made him a fan. "She’s lovely and she’s very talented,” he told Access Hollywood on Monday night. “I watch ‘American Idol,’ always have, she was my favorite, she was my pick to win and I actually voted too, because I know what it’s like when you don’t vote, you get eliminated.”

As for their date, "We kind of we went out with a group and it was a few of us there.... It’s where we kind of met and had a little chat and she’s a lovely girl," Ballas said. "I was super bummed for her getting eliminated, I thought she was going to win."

And Pia's rumored deal with "Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine's Interscope Records? What of that? Apparently not a done deal yet -– or at least not one anyone will yet acknowledge:

"I've been so busy that I haven't met with anybody right now," Toscano told MTV News. "Seriously, I'm looking forward to any opportunities that are to come but I'm really just focused on the [upcoming 'Idol'] tour right now and getting some much-needed rest that I haven't gotten."

As for the Interscope deal in particular, she said, "I really don't — I don't know yet what's going on with that. Hopefully, good things."

Interscope is denying it, too. "This Pia thing is all just a rumor," a spokesperson told USA Today.

But with all this interest in Pia, what's the holdup? contends that it's "Idol" itself: Her contract with the show may prohibit her from releasing an album until well after the "Idol" summer tour is over.

"No way do the producers want a contestant who was kicked off having a hit record when the winner hasn't even been announced yet. The first hit song has always been from the winner and this year will be no different," an "Idol" insider told PopEater. "This is about protecting the brand, not about protecting Pia. She can record as many songs as she wants, but 'Idol' will refuse to allow them to be released for now until the show is over."

So … patience. But do you think a long delay in releasing an album will cost Pia her fan base?  Or will Toscano fans stick around until she's free to make some music? Will you buy her album whenever it comes out – because you're a fan, or because you're curious? I'd like to know.

Full Show Tracker coverage of "American Idol"

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Pia Toscano is eliminated on "American Idol" on April 7 on Fox. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox.