Fox executives have said they intend to make some creative changes to the format of "American Idol" in its eighth season next year to freshen up the show.
But they weren't counting on a change in show runners.
On Monday, executive producer and show runner Nigel Lythgoe said he was stepping down from the Fox juggernaut to pursue a new show while continuing with "So You Think You Can Dance," which he runs while anchoring the show's panel of judges.
The British producer said he was "stepping back from day-to-day producing work on 'American Idol' " to devote his time to a new venture with Simon Fuller and 19 Entertainment, the co-creator and production company that gave birth to "American Idol." Lythgoe said in a statement that he also planned to work on local versions of "Dance" in Australia, South Africa and Canada. Fuller and Lythgoe created "So You Think You Can Dance."
Lythgoe denied a request for an interview, as did Fox executives. The network said in a statement that Lythgoe "is an extraordinarily talented producer whose creative contributions to the No. 1 show on television have been immeasurable. While we are disappointed that he will no longer be executive producing 'American Idol,' we are pleased to continue working with him on 'So You Think You Can Dance.' "
In May, Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Liguori acknowledged during a news conference that he was mildly concerned about a slight drop in the ratings and said that producers and the network were excited about revamping the show next year. Even with the decline in viewers, "American Idol" remains the No. 1 show on TV, registering 28.4 million viewers last season versus 30.3 million the previous one.