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Ex-producer Lythgoe confirms that he's back to rescue 'American Idol'

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By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, August 6, 2010

Fox finally confirmed what we, and others, have been reporting since last week: Nigel Lythgoe has returned to "American Idol" as an executive producer.

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On Thursday morning, Lythgoe waxed nostalgic about his history with the singing competition franchise:

"Since we launched the original 'Pop Idol' in England . . . " Blah, blah, blah. " Working as executive producer on 'American Idol' for its first seven years not only was an inspirational journey into the heart of American pop culture, it opened my eyes to the untapped potential of . . . " Blah, blah, blah. "I have been able to continue discovering raw talent on 'So You Think You Can Dance,' which I co-created . . . " Blah, and blah, and more blah.

Hopefully he will not, as rumored, become one of "Idol's" new judges, because he clearly cannot give short comments.

Lythgoe was brought back to overhaul the show, which is still the country's most-watched series but has taken a ratings tumble over the past two seasons. He previously had been focused on overhauling Fox's "Dancing with the Stars," after which its ratings went -- oh wait, what's this? -- down.

On Wednesday morning, he was quoted telling Variety he wants to bring Paula Abdul back as an "Idol" judge. But Paula, of course, is under contract with CBS to star in her own dance competition series. Lythgoe's obviously going to be a big-picture guy, and not get bogged down with details.

Lythgoe was never going to ask singer/musician Michael Feinstein to mentor or guest judge on "American Idol" when the show does another one of its inevitable Frank Sinatra-themed weeks, even though Feinstein is the expert on that era of music.

Feinstein hates the show.

"To see the bashing of young souls on television for the sake of sport, and ratings, and a witty line is unconscionable," Feinstein told TV critics during his Q&A session at Summer TV Press Tour 2010.

Feinstein had come to the Beverly Hills Hilton to promote his three-part PBS special, "Michael Feinstein's American Songbook," airing in October.

"Generations of kids are watching this program and are gaining permission to treat other people that way, to judge them and to say nasty things to them," Feinstein said of the Fox singing competition.

"To see a show where souls are dismissed wholesale in that way is a very sad and dangerous thing."


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