UPDATED: Welcome back to American Idol, Nigel Lythgoe: Fox announced today that Lythgoe will once again serve as an executive producer - joining Simon Fuller, Cecile Frot-Coutaz and Ken Warwick - on the show for its 10th season that’ll premiere in January. Lythgoe will not replace any exisiting producers; he will act as a voice on behalf of 19 Entertainment, which shares rights to the show with FremantleMedia. The companies license the show to Fox.
Lythgoe, who first came to the United States from England in 2002 to produce Idol but left the show in 2008, released this statement: ““Since we launched the original Pop Idol in England, I’ve remained close with Simon Fuller. Working as executive producer on American idol for its first seven years not only was an inspirational journey into the heart of American pop culture, it opened my eyes to the untapped potential of the incredibly dynamic young people in this world. I have been able to continue discovering raw talent on So You Think You Can Dance, which I co-created with Simon,” said Lythgoe. “American Idol became a juggernaut of epic proportions, but to me it was always like home. I am elated and honored to be rejoining childhood friend and fellow executive producer Ken Warwick, and look forward to creating more magic.”
Late Wednesday, Lythgoe gave an interview to Variety in which he said he “still loves” Paula Abdul and that he wanted her back on Idol, even though she remains under contract with CBS for a new dance show. “I’d recommend we have her in a heartbeat,” he said. Lythgoe also acknowledged that Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were in talks to join the show but would not confirm whether deals have closed. Randy Jackson appears to still have a place on the panel, however; Lythgoe told the Hollywood trade that he is the show’s “barnacle.”
Lythgoe went on to say that he didn’t think Idol needs a “face lift” - just more of a “spring cleaning.”
Meanwhile, a Los Angeles Times report revealed Wednesday that music producer Jimmy Iovine is expected to play a “significant role” in the show this season. He will likely serve as a mentor, not a judge.