FOX doesn't let a crucial role on "American Idol" be vacant for too long. After confirming the departure of longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, it has announced Per Blankens as the replacement.
"The passion and dedication that Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick brought to 'American Idol' guided the show to become a true cultural phenomenon," FOX said in a statement on Monday, June 10. "While we are saddened they will no longer be executive producers on the show, we are grateful for their tremendous contributions and look forward to continuing to work with them on additional projects."
Lythgoe confirmed on Saturday that he's fired from "Idol", tweeting, "Just had 10 days in the Bahamas, rain everyday. I get back to the States and get fired. Sad!" He added, "It's not a personal thing they just feel IDOL needs new leadership after 12 seasons," telling his followers that he would still be on "So You Think You Can Dance".
In an official statement, the British TV personality stressed that he had no hard feelings despite his dismissal. "I am truly saddened to be leaving a great team of friends and colleagues. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to maintain this incredible platform for America's young talent," he stated.
"This will only happen with the success of the program. If the executives that are now in charge of 'American Idol' believe that the ratings will improve with my departure, I have no complaints. It has been a great ride and I've loved every moment of it."
As for Blankens, Trish Kinane, "American Idol" executive producer for FremantleMedia North America, said he "is a creative and experienced executive who has been the showrunner on the blockbuster Swedish Idol for more than 5 seasons." She went on gushing, "He is extremely passionate about Idol and I'm very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping Idol creatively vibrant."
Prior to tapping Blankens as the new executive producer, FOX appointed the News Corp. senior executive vice president David Hill to oversee the production on "Idol" and its other hit reality show "The X Factor (US)". Hill temporarily takes over the duties from departing alternative programming president Mike Darnell, while the company continues its search for the right man to fill the post left by Darnell.