Nigel Lythgoe held a conference call today to discuss the upcoming seventh season of American Idol.  Lythgoe acts as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, but he’s the man behind the curtain on American Idol, a hands-on executive producer who makes the big decisions regarding the direction of the American Idol franchise.  Today, Lythgoe discussed the changes being made on the seventh season of Idol and what’s in store once the season premieres in January.

Nigel says that they’ve got some excellent individuals in the top 12 this season.  He still believes last year as a group was still great, but this season he thinks they have some immediate stand outs in the final group. 

They let the contestants play instruments during the Hollywood rounds.  He says it worked brilliantly for a few singers, but some others crashed and burned.  They’re still talking about whether or not they’ll allow instruments in the top 12.  It’s still up in the air. 

This season, they’re going to do fewer celebrity judges, and change the editing and everything to make it more about the individual contestants, and showcase them and allow the audience know who exactly these kids are.  He talks about blowing up the genres and giving the kids a bigger catalog of songs to work with.  There may be some more family screen time. 

Nigel says that even if they know a singer is in the top 24 or top 12, that doesn’t mean that they’ll put their audition tapes on air early in the season. 

Nigel says that the instruments didn’t sway the judges any way, and that the judges have nothing to do with the show’s production. 

Nigel says he’s not into jumping sharks and that the little lull in ratings isn’t going to bother him.  Even if Idol lost half of its audience, it’d still be the biggest show on TV. 

Nigel assures us that we will see just as many terrible singers in the audition episodes as years past. 

Nigel discusses The Next Great American Band.  He doesn’t think anything went wrong, per se, but he thinks it’s more difficult for viewers to be engaged with a band.  And, he says that the Friday time slot is a brutal one.  People who like bands are going to go out and see bands.  He can’t just blame the time slot. 

Lythgoe talks about three of the four American Band finalists being from Nashville.  He thinks it’s a magnet for talent and he’s seen that with Idol.  He loves Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, but as a corporate act.  He thinks Sixwire’s time has passed, but he really likes them.  He thinks The Clark Brothers can open any act, have a long career and record well. 

On Idol Gives Back, they will not eliminate anyone, or pretend to eliminate anyone.

Nigel wants to do a Beatles night on American Idol, but he makes it clear that Paul McCartney will not be appearing on the show. 

He doesn’t believe that the television audience is the same as the record buying audience, and doesn’t know how to respond to Blake and Jordin’s tepid record sales.  He thinks it’s about product and not the person on the show. 

Even with the strike going on, Nigel isn’t going to produce more reality shows. 

Nigel admits that they’ve inked two guest stars for Idol, but he’s not going to tell us who just yet.

The Philadelphia auditions will be one of the first to air, but it’s up in the air besides that.  The San Diego auditions were the best, talent-wise.  Nigel says that even if FOX asked for more episodes in the early going, they wouldn’t do it. 

Nigel talks at length about each of the six Idol winners.  Nothing all that enlightening, save for Lythgoe saying that America maybe made a mistake with Taylor Hicks. 

Nigel believes that the Grammy nominations for Idol alumni validates the program.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)

Oscar Dahl

Senior Writer, BuddyTV