Nigel Lythgoe: Jennifer Lopez may not be off Idol

Cat Deeley, Maggie Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe. Frank Micelotta/FOX

BEVERLY HILLS, CA—Nigel Lythgoe thinks Jennifer Lopez may not be leaving American Idol after all.

In a classic press tour, negotiate-in-public ploy, the executive producer planted the idea towards the end of a Fox session on his other show, So You Think You Can Dance.
“I was really upset to hear that Steven [Tyler] was leaving,” he said, “and the possibility of Jennifer leaving us…it’s a strange thing to say 99%.”
Lythgoe was referring to Lopez’s quote that she was “99%” leaving Idol.
“I hope that 1% may mean she’s not leaving,” said the wily Brit.
Fox has been curiously quiet about Lopez’s departure. Clarification may come later today from network entertainment president Kevin Reilly in the Fox executive session.
Lythgoe then turned around in the post-session scrum and said he thinks Idol judges should change every year. Create interest and avoid raises, he seemed to suggest. “I tried to deflect everything by saying the Three Stooges [could be the next judges],” he told reporters. His earlier suggestion that Charlie Sheen join the series as a judge was likely also a joke.
Certainly an annual changing of the judges would add some “Who’s in, Who’s out” buzz to the 10-year-old franchise.
Lythgoe isn’t even sure he’s still in. His Idol producing contract is up and next year’s terms are “still being negotiated,” he said.
Lythgoe also stirred things up Monday by suggesting that poor scheduling killed the Canadian version of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. That series ended after four seasons in 2011.
“I never understood why it was on at the same time as the American version,” Lythgoe told a room full  of mainly American critics. “You have an entire year to program material…and they do it together.”
Well, not exactly. Dance Canada came off a summer run its final year, with the American version airing in-season. The Canadian show’s numbers had slipped, although it was still winning its summer timeslot.
CTV, which has crowded its schedule with twice-weekly talent shows, did have headaches squeezing Dance Canada onto CTV One and Two, but Lythgoe’s assertion that the U.S. and Canadian Dance shows were on at the same time is wrong.

Edmonton-born choreographer Stacey Tookey also said she was “really upset” about the demise of Dance Canada. She and Lythgoe both seemed to blame the takeover of CTV by Bell as being a factor in the series’ demise.

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