Nigel Lythgoe and Music Producer Jimmy Iovine Sign Deals with 'American Idol'
So, 'Idol'-watchers: ready for yet more updates? According to The Los Angeles Times, Nigel Lythgoe has inked a deal to return to the show as executive producer and that music producer Jimmy Iovine has signed on for a "significant" role on the show. It's rumored that Fox will make an announcement later today, so stay tuned.
Although Lythgoe hasn't commented on the deal, it's understood that he'll run the show alongside current executive producer -- and his close friend since childhood -- Ken Warwick, but probably won't return as a judge. Similarly, music industry insider Iovine is also unlikely to be a judge, but instead will be "a mentor of sorts" to the contestants.
Iovine has worked with artists including Bruce Springsteen, U2, Dr. Dre and Eminem over his lengthy career, and his deal with the show comes after 'American Idol' switched record labels from Sony Music to Universal Music Group. Iovine is chairman of UMG's Interscope Geffen A&M label.
Where does that leave the judging panel? What we do know is: Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres have both gone. So there are two possible empty chairs at judges' table, but Lythgoe's gone on record to say he'd have three judges, not four. So that leaves one empty seat. Randy Jackson has one year left on his contract and is said to be safe for now, but Kara DioGuardi's deal hasn't been renewed, so perhaps that second seat's opening up again.
The latest names said to be in negotiations with the show have been Jennifer Lopez and Stephen Tyler, and 'The Los Angeles Times' says they both have deals "in principle" with the show and that agreemements should be reached within several days. However, Lythgoe just won't stop mentioning Paula Abdul's name in interviews, so don't be surprised if she pops up as Simon Cowell's replacement instead. Sweet revenge for Nigel and Paula perhaps?
But Fox is keeping mum on the deals for now, and even News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch (ultimate boss of everyone at Fox) won't be drawn on the issue. He said: "All I can assure you is that next year's `Idol' will be different, it will be better, the music will certainly be better, and we've got great expectations for it."
The tenth season of 'American Idol' is due to premiere on Fox in January 2011.