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Wherefore Lythgoe?

July 6, 2008 8:48 PM

“American Idol” executive producer and 19 Television President Nigel Lythgoe is taking a summer holiday from TV’s No. 1 show. Mr. Lythgoe has informed Fox that he’ll be absent during the filming of most, if not all, of the show’s audition rounds. Tryouts for season eight of “Idol” begin July 17 in San Francisco.

Nigel Lythgoe

It seems Mr. Lythgoe’s other big show—“So You Think You Can Dance”—will be taking up a big chunk of his time during the summer. In addition to appearing as a judge on the U.S. version of the series, he’ll be in South Africa to help launch a local version of “Dance,” according to a 19 Television rep.

Auditions for the South African “Dance” are taking place this month, with the show due to premiere Aug. 9 on SABC-1. Further filling up Mr. Lythgoe’s dance card: The producer may contribute to the next season of the Australian version of “Dance,” which is scheduled to premiere in 2009.

Word of Mr. Lythgoe’s break has led some observers to suggest he might be preparing to scale back his involvement in the show more dramatically, or even leave it altogether. Insiders at Fox and producers 19 and FremantleMedia North America, however, said they’ve heard of no such plans and dismissed such talk as ill-informed gossip.

As for Mr. Lythgoe’s absence from the audition rounds, “Idol” insiders note that Executive Producer Ken Warwick—who, like Mr. Lythgoe, has been with the show from the start—will be on hand for the whole tryout process. What’s more, the audition episodes of “Idol” come together in editing, a process that happens in the fall and something with which Mr. Lythgoe is still scheduled to be involved.

—Josef Adalian and Chris Pursell


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