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'American Idol' executive producer Nigel Lythgoe on negotiations with potential judges

August 19, 2010 | 11:51 am

Getprev-1 Did newly installed "American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe give us a strong hint this morning that we'd been on track in reporting that Steven Tyler had signed his deal to be a judge next season and Fox was still negotiating with Jennifer Lopez?

It seems so.

Lythgoe, who left "Idol" in 2008 and also is the creator and executive producer of "So You Think You Can Dance" is in San Francisco, where "Idol" auditions are being held. "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest aired his KIIS-FM morning show from that city and interviewed Lythgoe, who officially returned to the singing competition as one of its executive producers this month.

Seacrest, who noted that the auditions in front of the judges were to begin in mid-September, asked Lythgoe when official word on who will be seated at the judges table will be announced.

"I guess the decision has got to be made within the next three weeks," Lythgoe said. "I think decisions have been made, let's be honest about this. I think decisions have been made, and negotiations are taking place. And those negotiations, when you're just dealing with ordinary people, and you say, 'I want to take you out of everything for the next four months to do "American Idol," ' that's OK. But when you are dealing with stars who have other lives to concentrate on, it's like, 'I want to take you off the planet and you'll join us on Planet American Idol for four months,' that's really tough. So you've got to let them work everything out and, of course, come up with the money that they will appreciate."

Lythgoe, who said "it feels like coming home" to return to "Idol," said he was impressed by the turnout at  the auditions. About 10,000 people were standing in line in San Francisco, and 19,000 showed up at the New Jersey auditions.

"You just hope opening up more oysters, you can uncover more pearls," Lythgoe said.

The No. 1 show on TV is poised to feel dramatically different next year. Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres have left, and Kara DioGuardi's contract has not been renewed.

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: Nigel Lythgoe at the "So You Think You Can Dance" finale. Credit: Dan Steinberg / Associated Press


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