American Idol went out of the country to find its next executive producer.
Per Blankens, who was in charge of the Swedish version of Idol, will now replace Nigel Lythgoe for the show’s 13th season that kicks off in January. Blankens was also head of programming for Meter Television, one of Scandinavia’s production companies that made overseas versions of Idol, Master Chef and The Biggest Loser. Blankens served as the producer of Idol in Sweden from 2007-2011.
“Per is a creative and experienced executive who has been the show runner on the blockbuster Swedish Idol for more than 5 seasons,” said Trish Kinane, Idol’s executive producer for FremantleMedia North America, in a statement. “He is extremely passionate about Idol and I’m very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping Idol creatively vibrant. He brings the talent and energy needed to keep American Idol strong.”
Fox confirmed that Lythgoe and Warwick were history after the former producer tweeted over the weekend that he was fired. Lythgoe released this statement today: “It has been a tremendous honor to launch and build American Idol over the course of a decade and to see it recognized with 51 nominations and 6 Emmy Awards including the Academy’s highest honor, the Governors Award. To be a part of the spin-off program, Idol Gives Back, was incredible. As well as raising nearly $200 million for various charities it was a personal life-changing experience for me. It also provided me with the opportunity to produce and direct a magical sequence with Celine Dion together with Elvis Presley. This continues to be one of the highlights of my entire career.
“Over the years, I believe we have changed the face of American television forever and eventually created a true global phenomenon. It has been inspiring to find and launch the careers of artists ranging from Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phillip Phillips and many more, spanning all musical styles and genres. I am truly saddened to be leaving a great team of friends and colleagues. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to maintain this incredible platform for America’s young talent. This will only happen with the success of the program. If the executives that are now in charge of American Idol believe that the ratings will improve with my departure, I have no complaints. It has been a great ride and I’ve loved every moment of it. After dedicating over 12 years to Idol, I look forward to continuing work on my beloved So You Think You Can Dance, which is going strong in its 10th season.”
Auditions for season 13 of American Idol begin next month.