Nellie Andreeva

It looks like Fox will be able to confirm shortly at least one new member of the American Idol team for next season, returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe whose deal has been completed and is expected to be announced tomorrow. At Fox’s TCA presentation on Monday, the network’s entertainment chairman Peter Rice stated that ”the only thing I an tell you with absolute certainty is there are no signed deals with anyone on either side of the camera who wasn’t on the show last year,” referring to judges as well as Lythgoe. 

Lythgoe will serve as an executive producer on Idol alongside Ken Warwick, who has been running Idol for the past 2 years, creator Simon Fuller and Cecile Frot-Coutaz. His duties will be strictly off-camera and he is not in contention for the show’s judging panel, Fox sources say. Lythgoe’s surprise exit from the show in the summer of 2008 was followed by the departure of Paula Abdul last summer over a salary dispute and the recent exit of Cowell, who will be launching X Factor on Fox in fall 2011. Lythgoe helped build Idol into a reality powerhouse and has a deal at 19 Entertainment, which co-produces Idol with FremantleMedia. He also serves as executive producer/judge on 19′s Fox series So You Think You Can Dance.

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UPDATE THURSDAY 7AM: Fox issued a release announcing Lythgoe’s return

Nigel Lythgoe will return as an executive producer of AMERICAN IDOL, television’s No. 1 series. Lythgoe joins executive producers Simon Fuller, Cecile Frot-Coutaz and Ken Warwick for the milestone 10thanniversary season of AMERICAN IDOL, premiering January 2011 on FOX.

“Since we launched the original ‘Pop Idol’ in England, I’ve remained close with Simon Fuller. 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 the incredibly dynamic young people in this world. I have been able to continue discovering raw talent on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, which I co-created with Simon,” said Lythgoe. “AMERICAN IDOL became a juggernaut of epic proportions, but to me it was always like home. I am elated and honored to be rejoining childhood friend and fellow executive producer Ken Warwick, and look forward to creating more magic.”

“I am so happy to be welcoming Nigel back to the IDOL family. He is, without a doubt, the most accomplished executive producer I have ever worked with. Nigel helped to define the show I created almost 10 years ago, mentoring our judging panel and nurturing our talent. His unbridled passion has been missed,” said AMERICAN IDOL creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. “This year, with IDOL celebrating our 10thseason as the world’s biggest and most powerful TV show, I felt it was an important time to collaborate with Nigel once again to help redefine AMERICAN IDOL and take us through to the next incarnation of the show.”

Nigel Lythgoe is co-founder of Big Red 2 Entertainment, a company he set up with IDOL creator Simon Fuller and CKX. Lythgoe is also co-creator and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning series SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. His other executive producer credits include seven seasons of AMERICAN IDOL. While serving as the show’s executive producer, AMERICAN IDOL was nominated for 47 Emmy Awards, and in 2007, received the prestigious Governors’ Award, the Television Academy’s highest honor, for IDOL GIVES BACK, which he executive produced.

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