"American Idol" executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, who were enlisted to bring their hit-making pizazz to this year's Emmy Awards, abruptly pulled out of the show Friday, a surprise move that prompted more than a few grumbles within TV circles.
Veteran producer Ken Ehrlich, who has led several previous Emmy shows, has been recruited to take over the live broadcast, which will air Sept. 16 on Fox.
Lythgoe and Warwick said in a statement that they felt they had too many projects, including the finale of "American Idol" and the return of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," to give sufficient attention to producing the Emmys.
Said the duo: "We looked at our upcoming slate of projects ... and the additional shows we will be involved in this summer, and realized that we could not devote the creative energy and time necessary to make the Emmys outstanding for the academy and Fox."
Some insiders blasted the producers, saying they should have realized before taking on the Emmy Awards that the show would require a huge commitment.
The announcement in February by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which sponsors the awards, that Lythgoe and Warwick would produce the 59th annual Emmys was greeted with much hoopla because of their roles in running "Idol," television's most popular series. The two were expected to help juice the ceremony's recent lackluster ratings.
In an interview following that announcement, Lythgoe had boasted how he was looking forward to bringing some sparkle and excitement to the Emmys.
"How could you present the cast of 'Heroes'?" he wondered of NBC's pulpy hit drama. "Could they come flying in on wires? Could you stop time? Those are the things I want to look at.... I think we're going to shock people."