Last night, Nigel Lythgoe hosted the eighth annual BAFTA TV Tea Party in celebration of the 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards airing tonight on NBC.
Nigel kept mum on who would be the judges next season on American Idol when he spoke to reporters last night, but he let loose with a couple of interesting soundbites, nonetheless:
He told Deadline Hollywood that he was sorry to see Ellen Degeneres quit. He blames Simon Cowell for her departure:
“I’m sorry she’s gone, to be honest with you, ” he told me, “because I think there’s a place for Ellen DeGeneres on American Idol. And that is being the voice of the people. She wasn’t given a fair opportunity to serve that function. Ellen was constantly apologizing and overwhelmed, I think, by Simon. There was no chemistry between she and the rest of the panel, but to my mind it wasn’t her fault. She was misused. And I’m sorry that turned out to be the case.”
Nigel would still like to sign Elton John as American Idol judge:
“I must say, I really do love Elton John. He’s a huge favorite of mine, ” Lythgoe replied to me. The producer added that Elton’s packed schedule is “always the problem”. Then Lythgoe revealed what strategy Idol is using on Elton to convince him to clear it and come on the show. “It depends on whether [he] wants to give back.”
Alas, reportedly, Elton’s schedule, and his massive asking price will make that possibility extremely remote.
And on American Idol’s probable loss for best competition reality show at the Emmys tonight, Nigel tells Greg in Hollywood:
“In truth, I think that has to do with the voters not really taking into consideration the amount of work that goes into these reality shows, ” he said. “They don’t necessarily understand reality. They don’t get that to get those seven shows to begin with on American Idol that we have been through over 120, 000 kids. To get what we do in four days in putting that finale on which is fantastic – these major events at the Nokia [Theatre] or the Kodak [Theatre].”
“They’ll celebrate the Oscars that’s taken months and months to produce and not take into account that the finale of American Idol and [episodes of] that whole series is done in four days. I don’t think that they are reality producers or don’t understand what goes into the work. Without question, the producers of American Idol certainly do deserve it.”
On the “stranglehold” Amazing Race has on the category:
“It’s an edited show, you pick out the best bits, ” Lythgoe said. “Whereas American Idol, we’re live and how we handle that I think is worthy of merit in the first place.”
Nigel tells the Hollywood Reporter why he won’t consider a judge’s chair on American Idol:
“It would seem like we were trying to replace Simon and that wouldn’t work.” (Lythgoe is a regular judge on the show he created, “So You Think You Can Dance.”)
The emphasis with regards to “American Idol, ” Lythgoe went on to say, really should be on the singing talent. “That’s what ultimately makes the show strong.”