Nigel Lythgoe: 'American Idol' could start using completely different judges panel every year
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/17/2012
Nigel Lythgoe has come out and suggested American Idol may utilize a new format in which it could have a completely different panel of judges every year.
"At the end of the day, I think what we've seriously got to talk about is just using people for a year, because if we do want these big stars -- and we do -- you cannot take them away from what they do. That's depriving the public of a star, for a start, but also stopping them from earning a lot of money," the American Idol executive producer told the show's host Ryan Seacrest during a Monday appearance on his On Air with Ryan Seacrest syndicated radio show.
Lythgoe said more celebrity names may come forward to fill a judging spot if they knew it was only a short one-year commitment in which they could pick up with their normal busy schedules right where they had left off following a season's conclusion or opt to do another round based upon their preference.
"You can always get them back for another year, and I think the public would like that. The public is going to say, 'Oh she's not as good as [Jennifer Lopez],' or, 'I don't like him as much as [Steven Tyler],' or, 'Aren't they great?!' Either way, you're just constantly keeping things moving and it's interesting to see," explained Lythgoe in reference to how both Lopez and Tyler have recently announced they're leaving Idol after serving as judges for the last two seasons.
Lythgoe also noted the stars who may express interest in sitting on American Idol's judging panel in the future don't need to make any significant decisions during the process, so anyone would seemingly be more than qualified for the position.
"Don't forget they're only giving subjective opinions. They're not sending anybody home or judging anybody. They're giving subjective opinions, so it's great to hear different people's opinions," he told Seacrest.
Lythgoe said Idol's producers have many possible replacements in mind but making selections is difficult.
"I love so many people. When names come by you go, 'Yeah, wouldn't they be fantastic, wouldn't they be great.' But at the end of the day... it's chemistry. No matter how good you are as an individual, it's how you fit into a panel of other people as well. So that's always difficult and it's just a game at the moment," Lythgoe explained.
"It's not easy, and in the moment, while we're in the spotlight of the press, it's not really helping negotiations with anybody. So now, we've got our work cut out for us. I'm sure nobody's name will be mentioned at this time while we're getting it together."
Although Lythgoe is excited to revampAmerican Idol and consider trying a new judging-panel format, he admitted he's very upset about Lopez and Tyler's departures and it apparently wasn't his choice to let them go.
"I don't release anybody. I'm really upset. I spoke to Jennifer last Friday. She called me just after she spoke with you and I have to respect both Jennifer and Steven's decisions. They've got a much bigger career than just sitting judging Idol. They're both very talented people and you have to respect their decision to carry on and do what they were doing before Idol. But it breaks my heart, because I love them both dearly," Lythgoe told Seacrest.
Whether longtime Idol judge Randy Jackson will reprise his judging role remains unclear, although recent reports have suggested he may move to a mentoring role instead.