Executive producer to focus on joint venture

“American Idol” exec producer Nigel Lythgoe is giving up his duties on the hit Fox competish to focus on a new joint venture with 19 Entertainment’s Simon Fuller.

Lythgoe announced his decision to step down from his “Idol” perch Monday, confirming speculation he’d been looking to focus his energies elsewhere.

Besides the new venture with Fuller — which is still in the negotiation stage — Lythgoe has been focused on his other show with 19, Fox’s summer hit “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Lythgoe co-created “Dance” with Fuller and serves as a judge on the show. The producer said he’s also busy creating local versions of “Dance” in South Africa, Australia and Canada.

It’s unclear what Lythgoe’s title on “Idol,” if any, will be. While not a regular on the show, Lythgoe is frequently seen on the show consulting with the “Idol” judges and host Ryan Seacrest; the “Idol” cameras also occasionally cut to him watching the show from his front row perch.

Fuller called Lythgoe “the best producer I have ever worked with.”

In a statement, Fox congratulated Lythgoe “on the proposed joint venture he is developing.”

“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’ and look forward to working with him on his new projects,” Fox said.

Lythgoe, whose departure comes as Fox and producers 19 and FremantleMedia North America discuss ways to tweak the show prior to its eighth season, has been with “Idol” since its 2002 launch; he previously helped launch the format’s originator, “Pop Idol,” in the U.K.

Besides Lythgoe, exec producers on the show include Fuller, Ken Warwick and FremantleMedia North America’s Cecile Frot-Coutaz.

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