Could this year's Emmy race for best actor in a drama series come down to whether Kiefer Sutherland or James Gandolfini sings a better version of ''Desperado''? One can only hope: On Feb. 20, American Idol grand pooh-bahs Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick were tapped to produce the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which will air Sept. 16 on Fox. ''At this point, I can't promise anything,'' says Warwick, when pressed for details. ''All I promise is that it will hopefully be more entertaining.''
Given last year's highly rated, over-the-top Idol finale, the two Brits seem like a perfect choice to liven up the Emmys, which is often a rather stiff affair. ''Awards shows are starting to fail a little bit because there's just a queue of people coming on and thanking their mum, dad, and Uncle Fred,'' says Warwick. ''We'd like to bring a little more entertainment back. Don't forget that our background is music, and we're both choreographers.'' (One request: No interpretive dance, please.) ''We're both doing it because it means that we can actually sit through the Emmys and not be in tears halfway through when we lose,'' jokes Lythgoe, as he and Warwick have lost the Outstanding Reality-Competition trophy to CBS' The Amazing Race for the past four years. Any chance the pair will recruit some Idol talent to help out? ''If I could roll multiple people into creating a host, I would put Randy, Simon, Paula, and Ryan [together],'' says Lythgoe. ''With their chemistry, you've got the sarcasm, the warmth, the wit and you could always add 'dawg' on the end of the sentence.''