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American Idol: Nigel Lythgoe Interview

February 17, 2011 12:30 PM by Lisa Princ

American Idol on FOX is well underway with their Hollywood week rounds and today executive producer Nigel Lythgoe sat down for a press interview where he shared his thoughts on the talent, the show, Simon Cowell and much more! Keep reading to hear everything Nigel Lythgoe shared with us!

I don’t think anyone is more excited about the talent on American Idol this season than executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe. Nigel sat down with the press today and discussed just that as well as gave us some insight to many of our burning questions. Here is what Nigel Lythgoe wanted to share with viewers and fans.

Question: For the future success of the show, how important is it for you to find a singer who will do well after winning?

Nigel Lythgoe: It depends who you are, if you’re a record company you want the singer to do well, if you’re me, you want every part of it to do well. I think each and every part of it is part of a jigsaw puzzle that has to come together for success of program. For the judges they need to be really good this year, especially with the loss of Simon, who was irreplaceable. The talent this year is probably the best talent I have seen as a group ever. If you watch tonight you’ll agree with me. The show’s viewing has held up considering we’re in our 10th season, and lost 2 stars in Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. With that said, it is not in our hands if the winner will be successful, it will be in the hands of the record company and the people. We have no control on assisting that aspect aside from bringing them back
on future shows for more exposure.

Question: Weren’t you supposed to be down to 40 contestants by next week, but now you are saying 60?

Nigel Lythgoe: We’ve got to be down to 60 for Las Vegas. Because this was the biggest amount we have ever taken to Hollywood, we knew it was going to be really tough and a bloodbath and we didn’t want to lose anyone. The judges have been very careful in giving second opportunities this season. The fact is that some of the kids that got through were given second and third chances and came through and shown. We were in the area between 40-60 in time for Vegas, but the entire time we have been extremely flexible this year.

Question: So you’ll be down to the final 20 by next week?

Nigel Lythgoe: Well last night we actually did our final group and you’ll have to wait to see what happens there.

Question: The vibe of the show has been much more supportive and positive this year, were you going for that with the new judges or did it just happen that way?

Nigel Lythgoe: It was absolutely us going for it, this is what we wanted. We never wanted anyone to be held up to Simon, Simon was his own man and is brilliant at what he does. As for the judges, they are each their own person. Simon could never be like Steven and Steven could never be like Simon, nor do we expect them to. Something actually happened last night with Jennifer that touched us all and that would have never happened before and it made us realize yes they are real – they are stars but they are real people. I also want to add that the role Randy is now playing is somewhat being overlooked because he is now the anchor of this program. I always know that no matter what happens Randy will be there moving the process along for me and Randy’s role should not be dismissed.

Question: What percentage of viewer votes come from texting versus calls?

Nigel Lythgoe: I can’t answer that question since I haven’t done that the past 2 years. When we first came to this company, Europe had been texting for years but when we first came here to America they were talking about not even texting because no one was texting, so the growth of texting has been huge overall. But as to the percentage to phone calls, I can’t tell you I am sorry.

Question: Can you clear up the confusion over the Steven Tyler apology – what exactly was Fox apologizing for?

Nigel Lythgoe: [laughing hysterically] This is what amazes me – there was no apology, and I guess it’s pretty difficult to get British humor. It was us, me, the producers, not Fox issuing the apology. It all in fun for Steven using the language he was using.

Question: So you are saying it was a joke?

Nigel Lythgoe: Yes it was a joke. I am surprised at the people watched it did not get that.

Question: How do you reply to the critique that the judges are being too soft this year?

Nigel Lythgoe: At the end of the day you have to say, does it help the program that more people are given an opportunity or does it hurt the program. It helps and I truly believe hand over heart that we have the best talent ever. Whether they are soft or not, they have to give us the best in America and if that means more contestants than so be it.

Question: Do you have any concerns about the judges in a live show?

Nigel Lythgoe: Of course. I have no concerns about what they say, we always have a 7 second delay. It’s about them pinning things down and saying them in a short amount of time which has gone wrong in the past. We need to be on time, I am stickler for that and on every break I stick near the judges and try to wind them up. They need to have something to say articulately in a small amount of time.

Question: By bringing on Steven as a judge, is it inevitable that we will see Aerosmith perform on the show?

Nigel Lythgoe: I can say nothing about it, I am terribly sorry. However I think you’ve answered your own question without giving too much away.

Question: Will we continue to see the strong level of talent from the contestants?

Nigel Lythgoe: Tonight you will see even more talent than before, and on the Vegas show you will see production that you haven’t seen before. People you think you like may lose it a little bit while some people break through.

Question: In recently speaking with Simon Cowell, he has given American Idol the thumbs up this season, is it nice to have that validation from him?

Nigel Lythgoe: Very gracious indeed and in the same way I can say that his X-Factor show is absolutely fantastic. We compliment each other although it’s not always reported that way.

Question: Katharine McPhee’s mom is part of the show, is that correct and what part does she play?

Nigel Lythgoe: She is a vocal coach, we brought several vocal coaches in this season.

Question: During the auditions we saw a lot less bad talent this season, why is that?

Nigel Lythgoe: You didn’t watch the LA show [laughing]. No real reason, we just had such a good amount of real talent, and in the past many times we hit our top 20 and you at home don’t know who they are because we didn’t showcase them. So we decided to focus on those we might see in the top. We showed the very best and the very worst.

Question: Is the mood lighter without Simon?

Nigel Lythgoe: It’s difficult, when we brought it here to America we said Simon had a role to play of honest judge. All the other talent shows in America were sugar coated and sweet and it felt wrong that time to bring American Idol here and do that, so we said we would be tough and might cross the line. Most of the time we were pretty honest felt it was the right thing to do at that time. Simon took that role and made a star of himself with that role.

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Photo Credit: FOX

Topics: American Idol, FOX Reality TV Shows |

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