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Nigel Lythgoe back to "American Idol?"

Yes, that's the word via two very reliable sources -- The Hollywood Reporter's "Live Feed" and "Deadlinehollywood.com." If true -- and doubtless it is -- this is big news for two franchises, and one of them is of course "So You Think You Can Dance."

How Nigel Lythgoe would judge and executive-produce "SYTYCD" and also executive-produce "AI" -- even with his old pal Ken Warwick at his side -- is a riddle only he and his agent must know the answer to.

"SYTYCD" is right now in the midst of its busiest time, and "Idol" is up and running too, as it completes a search for Simon Cowell's replacement and conducts the long, arduous audition process.

No one appears to be commenting at this point - a sign that Nigel's announcement is imminent. (In fact, there is an official "no comment.")

Lythgoe was a highly regarded executive producer of "Idol" during the "good" years, and was also terrific with the press -- not an inconsiderable talent when there is so much press out there to be terrific with. He left the show abrupty -- likely had a falling out with Simon (Cowell not Fuller) -- and then launched "SYTYCD" which has had considerable success in its own right.

He's been a very good judge so naturally the speculation must begin as to whether Nigel will take over the SiCo emeritus chair. I personally would throw cold water on that idea -- nothing wrong with Lythie but I suspect "Idol" wants a Name, and will end up getting a Name.

Who? Honestly, at this point, anyone shy of Mick Jagger or Madonna would be a disappointment. The show -- or rather the press -- has built this pending appointment to such lofty hyperbolic heights that if anyone like Sir Elton John is named, it would almost be a let-down.

Strange, no?

The Live Feed has very interesting speculation too -- that Lythgoe will dump the entire judging panel and maybe even bring back Paula Abdul.

True? Who knows but it seems rather extreme. Plus, they're already hip deep in the auditions. How do you dump a panel and then introduce a brand new one in January? It all seems terribly awkward and unworkable.

 Nigel Lythgoe and "American Idol" contestant Kristy Lee Cook during a party. (March 2008) 

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