Michael Ausiello
August 06, 2009 AT 04:24 PM EDT

WHO: Judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, choreographers/guest judges Mia Michaels, Adam Shankman, host Cat Deeley, plus performances by Phillip Chbeeb, Jason Glover, Caitlin Kinney, Ade Obayomi, and Melissa Sandvig.

PREDICTIONS: Questions about when (not if) Paula Abdul will join the judging panel.

9:01 am/PST: Interesting that Fox slotted this panel before the exec session. Maybe they thought we’d get all the Paula Abdul questions out of our systems here and have nothing left for entertainment prez Kevin Reilly. As if!

9:04 am: Fox is once again trying to butter us up with free DVDs, coffee table books, and fattening snacks. Lots of fattening snacks.

9:18 am: With the live performance portion of the session out of the way, the panelists take to the stage and the Abdul question kicks things off. Lythgoe says he would “absolutely” be interested in having Abdul join Dance. “I don’t know anybody who has had her experience being a dancer, choreographer, and a judge. I spoke to her yesterday morning. I didn’t discuss her negotiations [with Idol], but I said we were going to Vegas for Season 6 and I asked her if she would be available [to join us]. She’s going to come out and meet me [and discuss it].” He adds that he’s not convinced that her Idol days are behind her. ” I don’t even know that she’s going to leave Idol. Until Idol goes on the air [in January], there are still opportunities for renegotiations.”

9:32 am: Lythgoe invited Abdul to attend tonight’s Dance finale “but she’s on the East Coast working so she can’t come.”

9:33 am: Regarding the gay dance controversy from earlier this season, Lythgoe says he wasn’t ridiculing the same-sex duo’s “way of life. I didn’t go out there saying I don’t like homosexuals touching each other. I didn’t like [the way they danced].” In terms of how the routine was packaged and edited, he says (rather unconvincingly) that moving forward “we’ll think a lot more if it’s offensive.”

9:36 am: Lythgoe clarifies his earlier remarks re: Abdul: He’s not interested in having her join Dance as a full-time  judge. A more likely scenario has her coming on as a guest judge. “I’m not a huge fan of four judges,” he says. “I don’t mind a fourth guest judge now and then… So, no, I’m not talking about [Abdul permanently] filling a third chair or a fourth chair.”

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