Exclusive: Nigel Lythgoe on Haley Bashing, Twitter Rants, and SYTYCD Changes

As executive producer of American Idol, Nigel Lythgoe has to balance the job of creating a compelling TV show with the work of discovering the nation’s next big music sensation — tasks that sometimes take him down competing paths. Lythgoe sat down for an Idoloonies interview (prior to Top 3 performance night and Haley Reinhart’s elimination) and shared his thoughts on how the eventual third-place finisher was treated by the judges after her performance of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” what changes he and his team are considering with regard to theme nights and voting rules, and why Season 10 results-night telecasts have been more compelling than in years past. Other topics on the table included Steven Tyler’s performance as an Idol judge, the oft-discussed but never realized contestant songwriting night, and the idea of taking viewers even further behind the Idol curtain.

Idoloonies: James Durbin Talks Flaming Pianos,
Metal ‘Revolution,’ ‘Waterworld’ Inspiration

Lythgoe also talked about the upcoming eighth season of So You Think You Can Dance, including his wish list of folks who might occupy the third judge’s chair this season (think everyone from will.i.am to Shirley MacLaine), the popular former contestant who could have a role in the coming months, and his perpetual fear of alienating the show’s core audience.

Idoloonies: Jacob Lusk Talks ‘Alone,’
Luther Comparisons, and That ‘Mirror’ Controversy

Press play below for all that and much more, and for all my Idol and SYTYCD recaps, news, and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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Comments (362)

  • I bet one vote per person could have pushed Haley through at the end since then the country vote really might have been split enough then. I didn’t buy for a minute all this talk about how Haley was a lock because of how split the vote would be, it was split all along and still Lauren always had more votes aside from for sure once and probably twice. James fans seemed to be in a fury and ranting all over about Haley and their votes maybe went a little bit less to Haley than some were expecting, the second week can be tougher on someone who has had any controversy since the sheep people will back off from them when new votes are crucially needed. Although it looks like the voting actually was very close and had Scotty way ahead and really didn’t change much from any of the other recent weeks where Lauren and Haley were close and trading places back and forth and Scotty way ahead. The judges having made her seem uneven instead of the most even with all her wins and egging her into defending herself and the production steering her into a more isolated looking light and the Bulls game all together were probably just enough to cost her.

    Earlier on who knows though what one vote per device would do. You might have a greater number of odd happenings near the bottom each week??

    Comment by anon – May 24, 2011 10:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Come on, Michael. What’s with the softballs? You bitch and rage against him and producer manipulation on idoloonies and when you have Nigel in front of him you let his BS answers go through without rebuttal? I’m so disappointed. Wasted interview. This was in essence a big ad for the next season of SYTYCD.

    Comment by Annoyed – May 24, 2011 08:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael, you are the best interviewer that I came across in all Idol related blog sites. You ask interesting quetions and manage to get more meaningful answers from the same people who has been spitting out boring cookie cutter answers in other shows. Yeah, I wish you pressed on more about Haley before she started to sing two songs (you have stat) but you made Nigel admit Randy kicked her when she was down and he was not happy. That gave me some satisfaction. If I ask Nigel nicely to replace Randy with will.i.am next year, would he do that? Then I might come back to watch the show again.

    The show was really good in early season with variety of telent. Casey’s Save was a good TV show moment, and we got exellent performance out of him after that. We got ballad, we got metal, we got Jazz.

    But the performers became very predictable and boring towards the end. For one, besides Randy just being unfairly mean towards Haley, but mostly they didn’t care to make kids do better or more interesting things by pointing out what to do/what not to do. All they hear is you were great, keep doing what you do. And they did. Again, and again. Zzzzzzzz…

    Comment by yomama – May 25, 2011 09:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought the interview was good generally and the comments by Nigel were fair. He did duck the Haley bashing a little.
    I’d like to pick up on a comment that he made regarding the nature of the judging on AI compared to SYTYCD. Nogiel reckoned that it would be easier to critique dancers because it is much more technical. I am married to a singer who feels that if some of the contestants were given constructive criticism about their technique, they could work on it and become better singers and grow more. Jacob particualry comes to mind but apparently Lauren’s ‘breath control’ requires a lot of work. Something Pia excelled at but was never given any praise regarding.

    Comment by tony green – May 25, 2011 03:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Excellent interview…probing, yet diplomatic. There’s still a lot that he’s not saying, but then again, in his defense, he really can’t be completely forthcoming about everything. Keep up the good work Michael!

    Comment by sharkey – May 26, 2011 07:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It wasn’t David Cook and Archuleta that did “Crazy,” it was Archie and Jason Castro who couldn’t get it cleared. Jason brought down the house in Hollywood week with crazy, but because Gnarls Barkley wouldn’t clear it, they couldn’t show Jason at all during Hollywood week.

    Comment by Violet – May 26, 2011 04:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Thank you. I thought I was going crazy…I didn’t know about Archie’s attempt to get it cleared, but I knew Jason had trouble getting “Crazy” cleared. What a waste. He was amazing in that performance.

      Comment by castrofreak – May 26, 2011 07:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m so glad you got an interview with Nigel. What a great episode! And with such mutual respect. I enjoyed hearing from him and loved your questions. Well done.

    Comment by Cristina – May 26, 2011 06:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “Evil Uncle Nigel” didn’t seem so evil in this interview! He was way more personable than I expected.

    Comment by karenb – May 26, 2011 07:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Hey, everybody!
    What do you think about this vocal?
    Check this out!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQYY1BhBF4c

    Comment by InnaVoice – June 3, 2011 02:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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