Nigel Lythgoe Is Returning to American Idol

Nigel Lythgoe is returning to American Idol as Executive Producer, reports E News.  Not surprised E broke the news, as Nigel’s show “Opening Act” airs on the cable channel.

After months of negotiations, Nigel Lythgoe will return as executive producer of American Idol next season, E! News exclusively confirms.

Due to the prolonged negotiation, a show source tells E! News that production is “way behind normal schedule,” and that the first thing on Nigel’s to-do list is to “lock in judges.”

Oh to be a fly on the wall during the negotiations. What could have been the hold up? And somehow, I think, FOX and Freemantle have probably locked in the judges on their own. E reports that an official announcement will be made soon.

With all the changes happening at Idol, they really need Nigel to stick around and make sure Idol is STILL IDOL when TPTB are done tinkering with it. I’m glad Nigel will be back.

As far as the judges’ announcements. I’m guessing official word will come down during premiere weed (September 12) just like it did when Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were formerly introduced. Of course, we knew they would be judges weeks before that time.

VIA E News.


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  • Danny Latham

    Yes for Nigel returning!! NO to a 4 judge panel and Ken Warwick. Nigel now has the power to say no to the 4 judge panel. Have it be Keith Urban, Mariah, and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) Randy Dawg. 

  • DoesMonaKnow

    I have my issues with Nigel, but would miss him if he left and were no longer getting into it with Idol fans, I mean, “MORONS”, on Twitter. Let’s hope he remembers from last season that fans don’t necessarily want to hear very old music all the time.

  • dabney c

    YAY! Idol needs Nigel. I missed him when he was gone for those couple of years. He knows how to put on a show.

  • durbesque

    America heaves a sigh of relief…Aaahhhh.

  • Jazz_11

    I think, FOX and Freemantle have probably locked in the judges on their own

    I totally agree with you MJ. So we know now that Nigel’s negotiation has delayed the whole thing.. haha

  • cooks

    Nigel may be returning, but I doubt he has the power to say how many judges there will be.

  • Jazz_11

    Don’t think so! I agree with MJ, that Fox execs probably already picked all the judges, now Nigel just needs to carry on with his task as the Exec Producer for the show.

  • iluvai

    I like the 3 judge format.

  • dante

    I am hoping Randy will not be a judge this year! I am SO tired of ” you can sing the phone book” “yo dawg” etc. I much preferred JLo and Steven T over Randy. I am hoping for some judges who actually say meaningful helpful comments.

  • blackberryharvest

    Good. I think he is a great producer, I wouldn’t have wanted them to leave Ken in charge again. 

  • KendraWills

    I doubt Nigel will have the power to decide the judges, I think that’s a done deal. I also think it will be a 4 personal panel with Mariah, Nicki, Keith and one other to be named. I think that September 12th is late, considering that Nicki Minaj continues her world tour on October 14th in Paris.

    Please no to Randy. He hasn’t been an effective judge in years.

  • Kariann Hart

    Nigel is  a busy, busy man.  Besides American Idol and SYTYCD, he’s got,  “Opening Act”  and “Chance to Dance.”  Then, we have learned about possibilities for a new “Fame” TV program.  And he has the Dizzyfeet organization.  Whew!

    I don’t like the 4 person panel either!

  • HKfan

    Thats a shame, can’t stand Nigel, he’s so up himself…..

  • Kariann Hart

    HKfan, maybe that’s how show people are in England.  Thinking about Simon Cowell, too!

  • HKfan

    No, I like Simon Cowell, think he’s great, but Nigel is a twat….

  • Leandro

    This is some kind of news that interestingly isn’t good or bad .

  • Mateja Praznik

    Nigel is returning? Too bad. He is useless. 

  • Noa Na’aman

    no to the dawg!! i don’t think continuity is more important than getting rid of Randy’s stupidity. and i agree, 4 judges is a bad idea. we hear more judging than singing as it is. 

  • blackberryharvest

     He helped save idol in Season 10. Ken Warwick almost destroyed the show when he was in charge.

  • Shoriagirl

    Boooo! That means that nothing would change… same old, worn out themes, same old tricks and manipulations and same old types of the contestants will be selected. Big mistake!  Wonder if Ken returns as well…

  • Not fit to print

    If Nigel is needed to sign the judges then Idol is in trouble. It’s a bit late to be looking for new ones. I think he means that he will put a full court press on to finalize any outstanding loose ends.

    With a possibly all-new judging panel, it is probably a good idea to have the same behind-camera team. Yes, Nigel is a bit of a visible manipulator (lols on tweets from Idol live show attendees about some of the things he does) but he has very good instincts and that is what is needed.

    I really like him on SYTYCD.

  • Not fit to print

    You know, they could plan the next round of auditions to start in mid-September and announce only 2 days before. It’s not as if the media (or we) have any advance planning to do between the announcement and the first day of auditions. How many audition cities this time around?

  • silverwings

    I hope Nigel brings with him the girl winner and guy winner concept from this season of SYTYCD.  It’s about the only change on that show I liked and it’s probably the only way for a girl to ‘win’ AI now.

  • Mateja Praznik

    He didn’t really change much from season 9. Nigel is one of the reasons why the show isn’t making any progress. It’s always the same shit, year after year. Some years contestants are a little better than other years. Idol needs some major changes in various aspects and sadly bringing Nigel back probably means nothing will change.

  • Larc

    I’m hoping all the big decisions about the show have already been made at a higher level than Nigel and his job will be to carry them out.

  • tripp_ncwy

    I can go for Nigel coming back but Ken Warwick really needs to go. His direction & production is the worse.

  • Larc

    How many audition cities this time around?

    There are 7: Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Newark, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.  Of course, they may substitute other locations for some of those cities.

  • Li Wright

    Thank you Nigel for coming back!  Is Debbie returning too?

  • Li Wright

    Nigel is a visionary producer.  What “progress” do you want it to make?  It’s a karaoke singing contest.

  • Li Wright

    Be specific.  What do you want changed and how would you change it?  I don’t want AI to be the Voice….god forbid.

  • Li Wright

    Please bring Randy back….he’s like an old shoe.

  • Li Wright

    AI is trying to be the XF and the Voice….it needs to be AI and not emulate others.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    “I’m hoping all the big decisions about the show have already been made
    at a higher level than Nigel and his job will be to carry them out.”

    I agree. I think that Nigel has been out of the loop for a while now, and FOX will dictate what he has to do. Of course, watching Nigel lose patience on twitter and call people “morons” will still be entertaining. lol

  • fuzzywuzzy

    “It’s a karaoke singing contest.”

    Yep. No more, no less.

  • potatorocks

    Anyone is replaceable on this show.  People are used to various judges–Randy can go.  I don’t think Ryan did great this season–I don’t want to say he was a dud but a little more effort Ryan–I see him as less indispensable than I saw him in the past.  Nigel– doesn’t care who wins–Lithgoe should care who wins.  If he is using these contestants to sell Coke without concern for them or their potential careers I say find someone who can sell Coke and gives a damn.  

  • buffynut2001

    As if Nigel “locks in” the judges! LOL! Guess what, Nigel? They locked in Mariah without you!

  • Denise

    When I think of what happened to Idol the first time Nigel left I get the willies!  Nigel is the glue that holds Idol together.

  • mmb

    Isn’t that what they did two years ago?  they announced tyler and j-lo and then started the judges rounds just a few days later….i would agree that the judges are most likely locked in now, and may have been weeks ago

  • mmb

    with the endless 2 hour shows now, I’d rather hear from 4 judges than see some of the ridiculous filler that they had last season.  Even with 2 hour shows, last season they still didn’t have the contestants sing 2 songs as often as they could, instead opting for more group numbers, trios, duets etc.  I liked some of those.  But with 2 hours there is plenty of time for an extra judge and still have the contestants singing more.  We don’t need to see them hang out watching then record the Ice Age soundtrack or whatever….there were many times last season that Ryan really seemed to be desperately stretching to fill time

  • Sassycatz

    I think, if they’re going to continue with those time-filling Ford segments, they better get more creative about them. They were powerfully dull last season. 

  • Larc

    With 2 hours to kill, maybe Idol should start having contestants sing full-length songs at about Top 6.  That would be a plus for them and for voters who want to hear more than 90-second snippets.

  • wordnerdarchie

    I think, if they’re going to continue with those time-filling Ford
    segments, they better get more creative about them. They were powerfully
    dull last season. 

    Sassycatz, they certainly were really dull last year.  Let’s get the directors back from some of the earlier seasons.  Four Ford segments that I still remember from 4.5 years ago because of their originality & “tongue in cheek”-iness I’ve posted below.

    Tainted Love:
    Ring of Fire:
    Going the Distance:
    I Want to Break Free:

  • julesb2183

    The seasons of Idol that Nigel left never existed in my mind. LOL. It gives me the willies, too. And makes me upset, especially when I think of the massacre of the Season 8 Wildcards. 

  • julesb2183

    Idol was much worse when Nigel left. Season 9, anyone?

  • julesb2183

    He does have the power. Why do you think the moment that he left the show they hastily added Kara, and then when Paula left, added Ellen?

  • Sassycatz

    Four Ford segments that I still remember from 4.5 years ago because of
    their originality & “tongue in cheek”-iness I’ve posted below.

    I liked those, but I also liked the one where the Idols were running from a space ship and you later find out that it’s a 1950’s style movie being made.

    By the way, I still remember the look on Cook’s face after they aired that Ring of Fire one. He looked like he wanted the floor of the stage to open up and swallow him whole.

    ETA: Here it is!!! It’s called Should I Stay or Should I Go and they start by showing what’s it’s like on the set and what the premise of the video is, then they show the actual video.

  • wordnerdarchie

    You mean this one?  (complete with the behind the scenes clip)

    Should I Stay or Should I Go:

    ETA: Sassycatz, those pants weren’t very flattering for David Cook. Check out his comments (months later) regarding that video shoot. Hilarious.

    Nigel, please bring back more of this funny, self-mocking style. OK?

    And Sassy, you would have to go back & add that video that I had posted for you. ;)

  • Sassycatz

    And Sassy, you would have to go back & add that video that I had posted for you. ;)

    Yeah, but the one you posted is clearer, and sharper. Much better than the one I dug up.

  • SullyD

    Not in love with the idea, but the only concern I have is whether Randy Jackson will come back or not. (I hope not, btw).

  • Tinawina

    Honestly I think the only things that really need to change (after adding some honest criticism from the judging panel) are fresher song lists and less formulatic casting of contestants.

  • standtotheright

    And there’s no rule that says one executive producer has to be in charge of either of those. In fact, that negotiations lasted this long gives me hope that the network insisted that someone else be in charge of those aspects of the show, and leave Lythgoe to keeping the trains running on time, which he is better at than some.

  • julesb2183

    I wouldn’t change the format (definitely keep the sudden death / wildcard show. I love that, and it works the best.) Just concentrate on getting the best singers and performers and judges that are articulate and will bring maturity to the panal.

  • julesb2183

    That was because of the Fox Network, who wanted them to extend to show to fill airtime because they cancelled one of their shows.

  • luvadamlambert

    I have mixed feelings like I don’t like Nigel but I need *something* originally idol

  • Larc

    Whatever other changes may get made, I hope Idol does away with the Judges’ Save… permanently!  Selection of wild cards should be the final say judges have about who stays and who goes.

  • elliegrll

    Why should Nigel care about what happens to them after they leave AI?  He’s a television producer, not a record executive.  I think that Nigel does do a lot for the contestants while they are on the show.  I’d bet that the AI contestants are treated better, and put in a better light than the contestants on any other show.  Things aren’t perfect, but American Idol comes the closest in terms of making the contestants the focus. 

    Nigel and company did mess up last year during the audition and Hollywood Week rounds.  Those shows made it seem like Nigel didn’t have any experience producing the show, but hopefully they learned their lesson, and things will be better during season twelve.

  • potatorocks

    I suppose you are right.   Maybe if they went back to the illusion that it mattered who won the public would believe it too.  They would then watch, vote, and support.  Nigel & Co. have revealed too much of the “inner idol”  and  the magic is gone.  Not just Nigel’s fault–judges have played a part in it as well.

  • blackberryharvest

    He didn’t really change much from season 9.

    Besides the new judges and the return to the 3 judge panel, there was also the addition of Vegas week, a SFYL round, the addition of Jimmy, and a revamped semi-finals round. I also feel like the contestants were different from what we have seen-Scotty with the traditional country voice, Naima with the Reggae style, James with his metal performances, and Haley/Casey and their jazzy interpretations. I’m not saying Nigel is perfect, he has some things I don’t like about him, but he did help save the show IMO. There was a big difference in the reception of Season 10 compared to Season 9.

  • blackberryharvest

     Is it confirmed it will be 2 hours next season? They only did it for Season 11, because they needed an extra half hour to fill due to a show getting canceled.

  • MalwareDie

     Nigel did not direct the audition rounds or the early Hollywood rounds. He only began directing starting at the Las Vegas rounds. The imbecile Warwick was in charge of the those earlier episodes.

  • Incipit

    The imbecile Warwick was in charge of the those earlier episodes.

    Yes, I recall finding that out ‘after the fact’ – and after I gave up trying to grind my way through those – they were bad. They were also guilty of the one sin in TV – they were boring – and it seemed Warwick’s idea of keeping the viewer’s interest was not a look at the singing – but how many green plastic barf bags could he show per episode.

    Hope they don’t lead with that Lamebrain ever again – once they lose the attention – it’s not easy to get back. IMO. Of Course.

  • DoesMonaKnow

    Can someone please explain to me how Warwick wasn’t on the chopping block after Season 9? You would think that FOX would see him as an easy scapegoat for everything that went wrong post-S7. Maybe Nigel wanted him around? 

  • Blou38

    The judges saves and pimping don’t work.  The person saved can seem great to the judges, but their personality comes across as flat to the tv audience. The proof is in how they do after Idol. If they aren’t good enough to sell solo concerts something went wrong on the show, and they probably should have been voted off regardless of how the judges feel.  Not accepting the voting public is nothing more than sour grapes.  The recipe for Idol was great the first few years.  

  • Tinawina

    Eh. The save makes for great TV, it’s not going anywhere. The audience will pick the winner it wants in the end anyway so what does it really matter.

  • Jaejae1

    No Randy. Leave it with Mariah, Nikki, and Keith in the middle. I want a total refresh. Ryan is enough of a mainstay.

  • Not fit to print

    On Twitter they are saying that a contestant tweeted that they got a callback from Idol for September 14th. Judging by cities is going to start mid-month.

    ETA: apparently one person tweeted producer auditions; another tweeted judging auditions. Not necessarily from same cities. Wonder what that means?

  • Kariann Hart

    With 2 hours to kill, maybe Idol should start having contestants sing full-length songs at about Top 6. That would be a plus for them and for voters who want to hear more than 90-second snippets.

    What an excellent idea!  I really want to see more focus on the contestants NOT the judges.

  • Not fit to print

    I have to disagree. Something happens at Round 8 – there is so  much rescue-voting for bottom-two likable weaklings at the expense of a front-runners that we often lose a really good one.

    It’s not the TV moment for me (the Casey Abraams moment was awful, imho.) It’s the fact that I would have tuned out of Season 9 altogether if Michael hadn’t been saved. I would have become a seriously intermittent watcher last year if Jessica hadn’t been saved.