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In a move widely expected by industry insiders, American Idol executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick “will be leaving the show,” a source tells The Hollywood Reporter. However, formal exit discussions have not yet begun.
THR noted in a May 8 story that the two longtime friends and showbiz pros would likely be shown the door, as the Fox series continues to weather a public beating due to sinking ratings — the season 12 finale was down more than 40 percent when compared to Idol’s closer in 2011.
As recently as this past weekend, a war room-like meeting was called to go over a laundry list of issues facing the troubled program. Coming off of “a difficult season,” as a well-placed show insider calls its most recent run, led to drastic measures like the exodus of most of the judging panel, including Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and longtime Idol fixture Randy Jackson. Another source tells THR that Keith Urban’s fate has still not been determined; Fox alternative programming head Mike Darnell‘s has, however, when he decided to leave the network.
Both Lythgoe and Warwick have been with the show since its inaugural season in 2002 and also worked on its predecessor, Britain’s Pop Idol. Lythgoe took a two-year break during seasons eight and nine but continued to produce other shows like the beloved So You Think You Can Dance, which airs on Fox and is a property of 19 Entertainment.
Neither Warwick or Lythgoe are employed by the network, however. Idol is a co-production of FremantleMedia and 19, which is owned by CORE Media Group. Lythgoe also has a development pact with Shine America, a subsidiary of Shine Group, whose CEO is Rupert Murdoch‘s daughter Elisabeth Murdoch. In all likelihood, both Warwick and Lythgoe will continue to work with Fox on future programs.
While talk of an all-Idol alumni panel for next year has stalled somewhat — with season-three finalist Jennifer Hudson still “close to a deal” (one report estimates her salary will be in the vicinity of $4.5 million, but another Idol insider tells THR that producers are looking to pay closer to the $1 million mark, which may explain the slow process) — there remain plenty of unanswered questions as to what season 13 will look or sound like. But one thing seems certain: Plenty are hoping for a whole new approach to what was once America’s favorite singing show.
Fox and FremantleMedia would not comment. CORE/19 has yet to respond to THR‘s request for comment.
As always, developing…
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