In Depth

Lythgoe Confirms His Shrinking 'Idol' Role

Nigel Lythgoe, "American Idol" executive producer and 19 Entertainment president, is finally talking about his plans to cut back his involvement in Fox's hit reality show.

TelevisionWeek broke the news last month that Mr. Lythgoe would be scaling back his involvement in the audition rounds of "Idol" in order to focus on launching a South African edition of his other hit show, "So You Think You Can Dance."

At the time, insiders at Fox and 19 Entertainment dismissed as "gossip" the idea that Mr. Lythgoe was leaving the show completely.

On Monday, Web site TMZ.com revived the scuttlebutt about Mr. Lythgoe leaving. That prompted 19 to issue a non-denial denial.

"Contrary to online rumors, producer Nigel Lythgoe is not leaving 19 Entertainment," the statement read. "Lythgoe … is currently negotiating a new deal with 19 to begin a new joint venture with Simon Fuller, with whom he created the Emmy-nominated show 'So You Think You Can Dance.'"

TMZ's report did not say Mr. Lythgoe was leaving 19—just that he was exiting "Idol." On that point, Mr. Lythgoe left himself a bit of wiggle room.

"My summer will be taken up by travels to South Africa, Australia and Canada to work on local versions of ('SYTYCD')," Mr. Lythgoe said. "I will step back from my day-to-day producing work on 'American Idol' and will be devoting my time to a new venture with Simon Fuller."

In other words, Mr. Lythgoe won't be as active on the show as he had been—but as president of 19 Entertainment, he will still have some say in "Idol's" overall direction, not unlike Mr. Fuller and executives at FremantleMedia North America, which also produces the show.

In Fox Broadcasting's statement, the network actually admitted that Mr. Lythgoe would be stepping down as showrunner on "Idol."

"While we are disappointed that he will no longer be executive producing 'American Idol,' we are pleased to continue working with him on 'So You Think You Can Dance' and look forward to working with him on his new projects," the network's statement read.

(1:25 p.m.: Updated with statement from Fox)