Far from idle, 'Idol' pair relinquish Emmy duties

Lythgoe, Warwick out; Ehrlich in

"American Idol" executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick have stepped down as executive producers of this year's Primetime Emmy Awards.

The 59th annual edition of the awards show now will be executive produced by Ken Ehrlich, an awards show veteran who has produced 27 Grammy telecasts and three Emmy shows, among others.

In a joint statement, Lythgoe and Warwick explained their decision to step down.

"After we wrapped the enormous effort of 'Idol Gives Back,' we looked at our upcoming slate of projects, including the 'American Idol' finale and the additional shows we will be involved in this summer, and realized that we could not devote the creative energy and time necessary to make the Emmys outstanding for the academy and Fox," they said.

Fox and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said in February that Lythgoe and Warwick would be running the show (HR 2/22). There were high hopes that the duo would jazz up the telecast, with Warwick promising to produce "the best Emmys to date."

ATAS chairman and CEO Dick Askin, who made the announcement Friday with Fox Broadcasting Co. president of entertainment Peter Liguori, praised Ehrlich.

"We respect Nigel and Ken's decision and are fortunate that Ken Ehrlich has agreed to return to executive produce his fourth Primetime Emmy telecast," Askin said. "He did a terrific job with the Emmys last year, and we are glad to have him back."

Ehrlich also produced the Emmys in 1980 and 2005 and recently exec produced this year's Grammys.

His other credits include the MTV Movie Awards, VH1 Honors, VH1's "Divas" series, "Genius: A Night for Ray Charles," Sports Illustrated's 20th Century Sports Awards, the fifth annual Latin Grammy Awards and the Blockbuster Awards. He also has produced music specials for such artists as Faith Hill, Celine Dion, Elton John, Shania Twain, 'N Sync, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton and Christina Aguilera.

Emmy nominations will be announced July 19. This year's telecast is set to air live (with a tape delay in the Pacific time zone) on Fox at 8 p.m. Sept. 16 from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.