Nigel Lythgoe returning to produce American Idol, and may replace all the judges

So You Think You Can Dance executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe may return to his previous job as executive producer of American Idol for its 10th season, according to reports. And that might be bad news for judges Kara DioGuardi, Randy Jackson, and Ellen DeGeneres, who could be replaced by Justin Timberlake and other new panelists.

“Ryan Seacrest would probably be the only ‘Idol’ personality with job security” because “in May, Lythgoe said in interviews that he would revamp the aging show by hiring an entirely new panel of judges,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

Variety notes that “Lythgoe’s hire was made by 19 Ent. owner CKX to serve as 19’s and exec producer Simon Fuller’s day-to-day eyes and ears on the show. 19 was said to be concerned that it didn’t have a dedicated EP on the show — hence the return of longtime Fuller collaborator Lythgoe.” The Hollywood Reporter first reported that “Lythgoe is near a deal to” return after leaving two seasons ago “as part of a shake-up by Fox and 19 Entertainment to try to freshen the series. But ratings continued to slip, and Lythgoe has often criticized the series, saying the contestants and judges panel weren’t very compelling.” The paper also notes that “rumors have been circulating for weeks that Fuller and Fox are considering not just replacing Cowell, but dumping the entire judges panel,” and adds that they are talking to Justin Timberlake.

However, Lythgoe’s shake-up of So You Think You Can Dance hasn’t worked out so well, with ratings declining and fans wondering where the hell its most prominent judge went.

Nigel Lythgoe may return as an executive producer of ‘American Idol’ [Los Angeles Times]
Lythgoe near deal to produce ‘American Idol’ [Hollywood Reporter]
Nigel Lythgoe is heading back to Hollywood, dawg [Variety]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.