And the Idol updates keep on coming. This weekend, we learned that American Idol executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick were cut from the series after twelve seasons. Today comes a more formal statement from Lythgoe, along with official word from FremantleMedia that they have hired a new executive producer.
FremantleMedia announced today that they are bringing in Per Blankens, the executive producer of the Swedish version of the series, Idol, to executive produce American Idol four Season 13, which is set to premiere on Fox next January (2014). Blankens has been the showrunner on the Swedish singing competition for five seasons, and from what American Idol EP Trish Kinane says, he's extremely passionate about the series. Blankens expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of taking on the U.S. version of the series.
"The Idol franchise is a worldwide phenomenon and I'm honored to be a part of the most popular of the franchises, AMERICAN IDOL,” said Blankens. “I can't wait to get started as auditions for the new season are just a few weeks away.”
Not being all that familiar with the Swedish Idol, it's hard to say if there's anything particularly different about the format of the show by comparison to the Fox series. From its Wiki page, it looks like the format has been more or less the same as it is for American Idol, though the site does say in Season 6 they added a rule that had the Bottom 2 singers singing after the results were announced, and the public re-voted to determine which of the two was eliminated. That sounds like a different take on the "Save" that's used (or not used, in the case of Season 12) in American Idol. Of course, Fremantle's choice to bring in Blankens may be less about the Swedish Idol format and more about Blankens' experience working on the show and how American Idol might benefit from it.
While Fremantle was announcing word of Blankens joining the series, we also received the full, official statement from Nigel Lythgoe - not to be confused with his Tweet-statement, which he shared this weekend when announcing that he was fired. Not only is this one quite a bit wordier, but it's also a lot more positive, noting his and the series numerous accomplishments during Idol's 12-season run. Here's what Lythgoe had to say:
“It has been a tremendous honor to launch and build “American Idol” over the course of a decade and to see it recognized with 51 nominations and 6 EMMY Awards including the Academy's highest honor, the Governors Award. To be a part of the spin-off program, "IDOL GIVES BACK" was incredible. As well as raising nearly $200 million for various charities it was a personal life-changing experience for me. It also provided me with the opportunity to produce and direct a magical sequence with Celine Dion together with Elvis Presley. This continues to be one of the highlights of my entire career.