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Nigel Lythgoe Talks About Where "Idol" Went Wrong

Nigel Lythgoe Talks About Where "Idol" Went Wrong

"American Idol" came under fire this past season for losing ratings, bringing on boring contestants, and undermining the legitimacy of the show with that whole Sanjaya thing. During the panel for "So You Think You Can Dance" this weekend at the TCA press tour, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe shed some light on where "Idol" might have gone wrong. He said the show made a mistake by not focusing much on the contestants' personalities:

We were so engrossed with the mentors that were particularly good last season, and we focused on their stories and not really on the Melindas. And we didn't know them as much as we knew the Kellie Picklers from the season before.

Next season, he said, he wants the audience to have more emotional hooks to the contestants — and he also wants the top 12 to be uniformly strong, the way the top dancers on "Dance" are this season. "There's no Sanjaya here," he said, prompting one reporter to ask if that was good or bad. "Listen, I'm not going to knock Sanjaya," Lythgoe replied. "I think Sanjaya helped the last season very well when we were sort of going down and everyone's going, 'Oh, the talent's not as good this year.' Sanjaya came through for us."

Lythgoe definitely put his finger on one of the problems I had with "Idol" this year, which was not feeling like I knew or cared about the contestants at all. In fact, I knew more about the top 20 from "So You Think You Can Dance" after one episode than I did about the top "Idol" singers after a whole season. Do you think adding the back stories back in will help the show reboot next year? Or does "Idol" have bigger issues now?

Photo courtesy of Fox

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