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'Idol's' Nigel Lythgoe sounds off on Fox

"American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. Credit: Getty Images, 2011

Therer's a quite-good interview with "American Idol" boss Nigel Lythgoe by TVLine.com's Michael Slezak that fans will definitely want to read.

But the sensational quote from Lythgoe is a rather visceral response to a question about Fox Entertainment chief Kevin Reilly,  who indicated during the recent upfront call with reporters that the show should have mixed it up a bit more this season.

Nigel fairly exploded at this, which of course makes you wonder: Doesn't the president of Fox talk to the president of "Idol" on a regular basis -- "regular" meaning like every other hour or so? Does Nigel just operate in a cone of silence, without any feedback from Fox whatsoever? This business never fails to amaze me.

Nigel is certainly right -- there was every expectation preseason that "The X Factor" would take a bite out of "Idol," but the question was how much?

 He's also right in his show-is-what-it-is defense. "Idol" can't tweak too much, or risk becoming something else. But I also believe it should shake itself up musically, by embracing hip hop in some way-shape-form; don't ask me how to do this because it's not exactly easy covering -- say -- Busta Rhymes' "Break Ya Neck" or "Gimme some More" but the show has to try to become relevant to teens again.

Sorry for the digression. Here's the question and what Lythgoe said:

TVLINE | Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly recently told reporters that Idol‘s Season 11 ratings dipped “more than anticipated” and that in retrospect the show should’ve made more creative tweaks to stay competitive in the crowded reality singing competition space. How did you feel about those remarks, especially considering that in many ways, Season 11 felt like a genuine creative success?
"I’m shocked that he would say we didn’t anticipate that. We always stayed away from [airing] two seasons of American Idol [per calendar year], knowing that ratings would dip, and the public would get tired. It’s just the very nature of offering the audience too much [of a particular thing].

"Now, if you’re going to do 'The X Factor' on the same [network] as American Idol, that’s like two American Idols back-to-back. So, yes, I’m shocked that they thought that the ratings wouldn’t dip. Plus, The Voice is in the mix now, too. There’s just a lot more on offer today, and kids don’t always watch the television anymore. The world has changed in the 11 years that we’ve been doing this."

TVLINE | Nobody is drawing 25 million viewers per week. "They’re not. That’s a fact. So, when Kevin says we’ve got to do new things next year, what are the changes? The format is a very simple format. Kids audition for us. Their talent is what brings people in to watch the show. Do we change the format? Maybe we should do it under water while basketweaving?

"It surprises me that there’s some kind of challenge to the producers to make it more exciting. What do they think we do? Sit on our asses not worrying about the show? I know, let’s watch the ratings dip down, that will be fun, won’t it? I get very annoyed with people, especially executives that should know what they’re talking about, making statements like that, to be frank with you."

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