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'American Idol' host Ryan Seacrest originally auditioned to be a judge

By Christopher Rocchio, 02/11/2009 

Ryan Seacrest apparently auditioned to be an American Idol judge before he was tapped to co-host the Fox mega-hit that has since made him a household name.

Former Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe appeared as a guest on Wednesday's broadcast of Seacrest's KIIS-FM radio show, and the two discussed the first time they met.

"Nigel has been doing auditions for years.  In fact, I had to audition for him for American Idol," recalled Seacrest.  "I can't quite remember the first time I met you or auditioned for you because there were so many stages I had to go through.  Do you remember?"

"Yes I do," replied Lythgoe.  "I remember I was auditioning you originally to be a judge because you knew about music.  Then you were just so bright and perky.  We were desperate, because at that point Fox wanted two hosts as you'll remember.  We already hired Brian Dunkleman."

"You already hired him," added Seacrest.  "He was already in."

"Yeah," continued Lythgoe.  "Then Ryan came in, I was introduced to him and we suddenly realized, 'Hey, this would be a good co-host.'"

While both Seacrest and Dunkleman co-hosted Idol's first season in 2002, Dunkleman subsequently made a "decision" to leave his post "in order to pursue other opportunities in the world of TV and feature films."

Dunkleman's announcement came after several media outlets had already reported that although they weren't necessarily opposed to it, Fox executives (who had already re-signed Seacrest a few weeks earlier) were largely indifferent to the prospect of Dunkleman's return.

Idol has since rolled along successfully without Dunkleman, and is trying to continue to do so now without Lythgoe -- who confirmed last summer he would be stepping down as Idol's executive producer after previously serving in that role for the show's first seven seasons.

Despite no longer being involved with Idol, Lythgoe told Seacrest he has remained a viewer of the show's eighth season, which will reveal its Top 36 semifinalists during tonight's broadcast.

"I must say, I'm really looking forward to tonight's episode of American Idol," said Lythgoe.  "I love the little tweaks that I think you've done.  I love the fact the people have got to sing for their lives tonight.  It's turning out to be a great series."

One of the reasons Lythgoe left Idol was to focus more of his attention on So You Think You Can Dance, which is currently holding auditions for its fifth season. 

Lythgoe pointed to fourth-season champ Joshua Allen as a reason why no formal training is needed to audition for So You Think You Can Dance, and encouraged others to follow Allen's lead.

"It really is something that if you've got what it takes and that charisma that we all search for -- whether it's American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, we're all looking for that little bit of magic -- if you've got that, than it's really worth coming along," said Lythgoe.

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