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The Return of Nigel Lythgoe: All Change at 'American Idol'?

by Catherine Lawson, posted Jul 27th 2010 7:30AM

Nigel Lythgoe, May 2010Two years after he quit, Nigel Lythgoe may be set to return to 'American Idol,' and word is that he's ready to clean house.

According to 'The Hollywood Reporter,' "Nasty Nigel" is close to signing a deal with Fox to be named executive producer. It's reportedly part of the network's "master plan to reboot the show" following declining ratings and mega-judge Simon Cowell's recent departure. And the seats at judges' table are, it would seem, ALL up for grabs under a new regime.

Execs have been scrambling to fill Cowell's chair with a high-profile music industry insider, and the many names so far linked with the spot have included Sean Combs, Quincy Jones, Bret Michaels and Harry Connick, Jr.

The previous front runner was thought to be singer Chris Isaak, but it's now rumored that at the top of 'American Idol' chief Simon Fuller's wishlist are Elton John and Justin Timberlake. And that although Fuller's been after Elton John for some time -- so far unsuccessfully -- Lythgoe could be the one to sign him, or even him and Timberlake.

But what happens to the current judges? Lythgoe told a reporter in April that if he was in charge at 'American Idol' he'd replace all of them, and he also criticized the decision to up the number of judges from three to four, saying it was "distracting" for the viewers. He's on record as saying that his choice as judges would be: Elton John (him again), Paula Abdul and Usher.



Rumors have been circulating for weeks that Fox and Fuller want to get rid of all the judges, and it's been noted that newbie Kara DioGuardi's one-year-at-a-time deal hasn't yet been renewed, and that Randy Jackson's only got one year left on his contract. Getting rid of Ellen DeGeneres could be tricky as she signed a multi-year deal with Fox, and a source close to her says she's prepared to fulfill her contract with 'American Idol.'

Originally a dancer and choreographer, Lythgoe worked his way through the TV industry in the U.K. until in 2000 he became famous as the outspoken head judge on talent show 'Popstars.' He later worked with Simon Fuller to create the hit show 'Pop Idol,' which they turned into a worldwide TV franchise, including 'American Idol.' Lythgoe ran the show for seven seasons before he left to launch 'So You Think You Can Dance,' where he's also a judge. So far there's been no word on whether he'll have a seat at the revamped 'Idol' judges' table.

But the clock's ticking to get it all wrapped up. 'American Idol' auditions have already begun taping with the current judges in place and Peter Rice, new entertainment chairman at Fox, said that he expects the new judge (or judges?) to be out on the auditions roadshow in early September. Lythgoe and Fuller are also up against Simon Cowell in the race to sign celebrity judges as he's launching 'The X Factor' in the U.S. next year.

The tenth season of 'American Idol' is due to premiere on Fox in January 2011.

'The X Factor' is slated to debut on Fox in September 2011.

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Rosemary Hirsch

Yes, American Idol does need some housecleaning. I do not anticipate watching the show anymore. The chemistry between the judges last season was not there, and the audience could feel it. Simon was cruel to be kind to the contestants about the usually lack of talent. I will miss his "telling it like it is," no matter how painful. I hope the show can regain its old sparkle. Good luck!

August 03 2010 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lita

Get Paula back! Make us all happy or is she going with X Factor and Simon? Kara is a plus, she knows music. Keep Ryan, without Simon giving him so much criticism he will be much better. His job is not as easy as it looks and he is great. I, personnaly think the Brits have taken over American entertainment. Think Harry Connick, Jr or Chris Issack.Remember most constants are young, so NO Howard!

July 30 2010 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
FANtastic

what about Bette Midler? The youngsters may not know who she is, but my gosh... talk about across the board TALENT! And she's gracious, funny as heck, and would bring a totally new take on the show.
She may be too busy, though, to do the show. At least consider her for guest judge or mentor.
Nigel brought back former contestants as "ALL STARS" on "So You Think You Can Dance"; it could work on American Idol, as well. They could mentor and then sing on Elimination night... there are so many from which to choose.
This post is old, so we already know that Ellen quit, Kara was fired and Randy is safe for another year. As for Ryan... who cares if he's gay, bi, or whatever, it's nothing to do with anything!
I love the guest judge idea... so many people from wichi to choose, all genres! And consider this... they do NOT have to be singers to be judges! (Simon)

July 30 2010 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Louis George

I haven't missed a SYTYCD since its' inception, but tuned out last night after Lauren's dance. It was better when they removed a male/female and kept things fairly close. I'm tired of watching the guys dance together. I tune in (as do we all) for the entertainment factor as much as for the judged talent, and watching the guys couple up just doesn't cut it anymore.
Additionally, as for the judges, the two last minute 4th seats recently added are air fillers. They don't offer much credible input (would I want to dance with you...yes or no---would I want your hand on my back in that manner..no)Very helpful comments, huh? Don't change the recipe when the pies nearly baked---it destroys the pie.
Finally, I used to respect Mia Michael's guest judge opinion, but having her on every week is getting really old...as are her tears and emotions---give us a break please. I'm so tired of listening to her subjective judging, constant whining and crying, and emotionally based critique I could vomit---and WHERE IS MARY MURPHY???!! The only one to add some excitement to the judging and make it fun. She put us on the edge of our seat waiting for her reaction after each dance, and dancers busted their butts to hear that they were on her "Hot Tamale Train."
I have, for the most part, respected Nigel's opinion through the past few years, but with the (lousy) "new direction" SYTYCD has taken this season, How much hope can there be for IDOL in his present state of mind??
P.S.--Regarding IDOL, he should at least occupy a seat in the judges box...and PLEASE! Dump Degeneres and forget about Connick---for all of our sakes!

July 29 2010 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dana

Wthout Ryan the show would be too dry. Ryan has to stay.

July 28 2010 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

yes, axe everyone including Seacrest !

July 28 2010 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura

Randy is OK. He knows the business, but he won't have Simon to play off of so I think he is replaceable. I didn't watch this season because I can't stand that Kara person. Ellen? Great comic. Great talk show host. Not great judge material. Someone with extensive musical background needs to be there. Whatever! I like Nigel Lithgow. He's an old curmudgeon, but he knows his stuff very well. Hope he can resurrect the show because I see it singing its swan song!

July 28 2010 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dmills4124

If anyone can get American Idol back up to be the best talent show, it is Nigel. He can do it. Get rid of all the judges, but keep Ryan. AI won't be the same without Ryan.

July 28 2010 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nklindsay6

Nigel...you're thinking in the wrong direction. A Celeb judge...Simon Cowell is a mega producer, and in the biz for years prior, and also international.
Thinking in terms of a celeb filler is undershooting the seat on A.I. You need a mega producer..aka: Clive Davis...Music Industry CEO. America will respond to someone in charge, rather an unknown face, than a "Bret Michaels"..ouch!

July 28 2010 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
carlos

Rumors have been circulating for weeks that Fox and Fuller want to get rid of all the judges, and it's been noted that newbie Kara DioGuardi's one-year-at-a-time deal hasn't yet been renewed, and that Randy Jackson's only got one year left on his contract. Getting rid of Ellen DeGeneres could be tricky as she signed a multi-year deal with Fox, and a source close to her says she's prepared to fulfill her contract with 'American Idol.'
Ellen don't quit U'r day job.....LOL

July 28 2010 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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