Nigel Lythgoe was fired from American Idol as executive after a disastrous season 12, which became more about the feuds between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj than finding a singing star. At a reality show conference sponsored by The Wrap, Nigel reflected on why the FOX had to pull the plug on the show after 15 seasons.
“When we started ‘American Idol,’ no one knew who the hell Simon Cowell was, or Randy Jackson. And the network was telling me that Paula Abdul was past it,” Lythgoe said at TheWrap’s annual media leadership conference TheGrill. “It should always be about the talent.”
He argued that the series had forgotten about the talent once original judges Abdul and Cowell left the show. The show later saw substantial turnover in judges, including short tenures for Ellen Degeneres, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.
“We forgot what American Idol was about. It should’ve been about the talent, and all of a sudden Mariah and Nicki turn up and it’s about [bumps fists together] this. We lost the humor of it, and the warmth of it.”
As a result, the show saw a decline in ratings and had to be put to rest. “I’ve always equated it to an old boxer. You don’t want to see some young guy come up and keep knocking them out,” he said.
Nigel keeps referring to “the series” making decisions. As executive producer, surely he had a hand in the shows failures. However, the decision to put Nicki and and Mariah on the panel together was made by reality chief, Mike Darnell. That disastrous season also led to his exit after 17 years at FOX.
Nigel must feel at least a twinge of satisfaction that the Executive Producer who replace him, Per Blankens couldn’t right the ship in the two seasons he headed the production. American Idol has to end next year because there is so much water over the bridge, nothing could save it at this point. When viewers have turned away from a show, they aren’t coming back. Who knows, maybe in a few years FOX will reboot Idol with new judges, producers etc, and it will enjoy a comeback.
The panel about the current state of reality television included Nigel, Ben Silverman, founder and chairman of Electus; Allison Grodner, executive producer of Big Brother on CBS; and David Lyle, president of PactUS, a business association that lobbies on behalf of production companies.
Via The Wrap