American Idol 10 gets Jimmy Iovine as a mentor, while Nigel Lythgoe officially returns

So You Think You Can Dance executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe is returning to produce American Idol after a two-season absence, and as part of this “spring cleaning”–he said it doesn’t need “a huge facelift”–he wants another former cast member to return: Paula Abdul.

That, however, is unlikely thanks to her six new jobs at CBS. “I still love Paula. She’s signed to CBS, probably exclusively, but I’d recommend we have her in a heartbeat,” he told Variety. While Nigel won’t judge himself (“we have to move on. They would want me to play that part.”), he does like both Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez as judges.

While he wants to decrease the focus on backstories, he also said he wants the contestants to be the focus: “My concerns were over the last couple of years, we’ve lost sight of the fact that the most important people on the show are the young artists. It revolved around Kara coming in to make four judges, which often left no time for them to talk. Then it was about Paula leaving, and then about Ellen joining.”

Nigel told USA TODAY, “I’m back because it was tough being away. And it was tough to watch things going down. I was never happy with the four judges, and I was watching the chemistry sort of be lost.” The show’s co-creator, Simon Fuller, told THR that “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… I felt it was an important time to collaborate with Nigel once again to help redefine ‘American Idol.'”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that “[l]egendary record producer Jimmy Iovine is also expected to have a significant role on the show as well,” and that “he will be a mentor of sorts.” That follows American Idol‘s switch from Sony Music to Universal Music for its record deals.

Inside Nigel Lythgoe’s plans for ‘Idol’ [Variety]
Song-and-dance man Nigel Lythgoe returning to ‘Idol’ [USA TODAY]
Music producer Jimmy Iovine to be part of “American Idol” next season [Los Angeles Times]

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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.