With deals finally getting signed, FOX is ready to begin the process of confirming a slew of the industry’s worst-kept “American Idol” secrets.
Up first, on Thursday (Aug. 5) morning, FOX formally announced that Nigel Lythgoe is set to return to “American Idol” as executive producer.
An “Idol” veteran dating back to its “Pop Idol” days in England, Lythgoe left “American Idol” after Season Seven to concentrate his attentions on producing and judging “So You Think You Can Dance.” He’ll rejoin an “American Idol” executive producing team that features long-time stalwarts Simon Fuller, Cecile Frot-Coutaz and Ken Warwick.
“Since we launched the original ‘Pop Idol’ in England, I”ve remained close with Simon Fuller. Working as executive producer on ‘American Idol’ for its first seven years not only was an inspirational journey into the heart of American pop culture, it opened my eyes to the untapped potential of the incredibly dynamic young people in this world. I have been able to continue discovering raw talent on ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ which I co-created with Simon,” Lythgoe says in an oddly expository statement. “‘American Idol’ became a juggernaut of epic proportions, but to me it was always like home. I am elated and honored to be rejoining childhood friend and fellow executive producer Ken Warwick, and look forward to creating more magic.”
The new installment of “American Idol” will premiere on FOX in January 2011. While this will be the show’s milestone 10th season, much of the recent media discussion has hinged on the overhaul the format will receive after the departure of beloved judge Simon Cowell, as well as Ellen DeGeneres, whose judging tenure lasted only one season and was considered a disappointment by many.
At the Television Critics Association press tour this month, FOX executives declined to confirm a number of “Idol” judging rumors, as well as reports of Lythgoe’s return. At the time, reporters were told that no deals would be formally announced until contracts were signed (a reasonable stipulation).
“I am so happy to be welcoming Nigel back to the ‘Idol’ family. He is, without a doubt, the most accomplished executive producer I have ever worked with,” states Simon Fuller, apparently unconcerned about slighting Warwick or Frot-Coutaz. “Nigel helped to define the show I created almost 10 years ago, mentoring our judging panel and nurturing our talent. His unbridled passion has been missed. This year, with ‘Idol’ celebrating our 10th season as the world”s biggest and most powerful TV show, I felt it was an important time to collaborate with Nigel once again to help redefine AMERICAN IDOL and take us through to the next incarnation of the show.”
With Lythgoe’s formal addition, can announcements regarding “Idol” judges be far behind? Honestly, we have no idea.
Stay tuned for more announcements as they’re announced.