In addition to switching up the judges' panel, "American Idol" is making some changes behind the scenes: Nigel Lythgoe, a former "Idol" executive producer, is returning to the Fox hit.
Reps from the show confirmed to USA Today that Lythgoe, who left "Idol" in 2008 to focus on "So You Think You Can Dance" as an executive producer and judge, will be back on "Idol" for the upcoming season. The TV exec has reportedly signed a two-year contract to shape the show alongside creator Simon Fuller and executive producers Cecile Frot-Coutaz and Ken Warwick.
Lythgoe's return might mean that a decision about the ever-evolving judges' panel will be announced soon. Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres have both announced that they will not return to the talent behemoth, and the show's producers have not publicly revealed the official lineup for the upcoming season. However, Lythgoe has been vocal about who he would bring in to the "Idol" fold, citing Elton John and Usher as ideal critics. The TV exec has also mentioned that he would circle back to the show's original formula and put Paula Abdul behind the judges' table.
For Lythgoe, the show lost its footing, and he recently commented that the ninth season ran into trouble when "Idol" producers shifted the focus away from the contestants.
"The team took their eye off the ball a little bit and was more worried about the judges and what was happening with them than it was regarding the talent last year," Lythgoe said in a June interview with The Canadian Press. "It became about Kara [DioGuardi] joining and making the fourth judge; Paula [Abdul] leaving; Ellen [DeGeneres] joining and Simon leaving — and much more about them and concentrating on that than on the talent that they were finding."
While it is clear that Lythgoe will head back to "Idol," the rumored addition of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to the show has not been confirmed. Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice recently addressed rumors surrounding the future of "Idol" and told reporters that "much of the information that has been written is accurate" but added that some reports have been "widely inaccurate."
Are you happy one of the show's original producers is back behind the scenes? Let us know in the comments!
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