Speaking to reporters at FOX’s Thursday (Aug. 6) morning Television Critics Association press tour panel, “So You Think You Can Dance” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe left the door wide open for Paula Abdul to have some sort of role on his hit show.
“Absolutely there’s no question about that,” Lythgoe said. “I don’t know anybody who’s had her experience of being a performer, being a dancer, being a choreographer and being a judge. So absolutely. I’ve been trying to get her since Season One.”
Abdul’s extra availability for “So You Think You Can Dance” comes after her abrupt Tuesday evening tweeting indicating a parting of ways with “American Idol.” Lythgoe, formerly an “Idol” executive producer, admitted that he wasted no time in reaching out to his former colleague.
“I’ve spoken to her,” Lythgoe said. “I spoke to her yesterday morning. I didn’t get into discussions with her or negotiations, because I believe that’s private issue. I certainly wouldn’t talk about mine.”
Lythgoe said that he invited Abdul to converse, but he was hesitant to commit to the capacity in which the “Straight Up” singer might be used on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“At this moment in time, we’re talking about opportunities, not just as a judge on this program, but opportunities for Paula,” he said.
“So You Think You Can Dance” features Lythgoe and Mary Murphy as regular judges and uses the third judging chair for a variety of choreographing luminaries including Mia Michaels, Adam Shankman, Debbie Allen and more. It doesn’t sound as if Lythgoe envisions expanding the regular panel for Abdul, even if her salary demands became less steep than they seem to be for “Idol.”
“I’m not a huge fan… of four judges,” said Lythgoe, who left “American Idol” before Kara DioGuardi was added. “I don’t mind a fourth guest judge every now and again, but four judges, on every panel, it should never be about the judges. It should be about the talent who’s up there and then add to that by what the judges are going to say. So no, at this moment in time, I’m not talking filling a third chair or a fourth chair.”
And how does Lythgoe think Abdul’s absence will impact the fortunes of “American Idol”? Well, for one thing, he isn’t so sure that she’s really all the way out.
“I still don’t know that she’s going leave ‘Idol,'” he said. “I know this is going on and the tweeting and the official statements and everything, but until ‘Idol’ goes on the air, there’s always opportunities of renegotiation. Who knows?”
Lythgoe added, “The impact on ‘Idol’? I’ve said it before. ‘Idol’ is far bigger than any individual. It has been successful all over the world with different judges. Simon Cowell is not a judge all over the world and it’s been successful. Paula Abdul is not a judge all over the world… They have their own judges and it is the format that is successful and I believe it’s the young talent that goes on the show that makes it such a great success along with, obviously, Simon Fuller’s concept about the country getting behind the next star.”
Stay tuned for more information on Paula Abdul’s future. We’ll be holding our breath.
Meanwhile, the fifth season finale of “So You Think You Can Dance” airs on Thursday night.