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Lythgoe’s Emmy arrives, global-style

Exec producer taken by surprise at Founders Award

Exec producer of “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol” Nigel Lythgoe was a little surprised when he was told he would receive the Intl. Emmy Founders Award this year.

“Having been nominated with ‘American Idol’ (six times) and seeing ‘Amazing Race’ win so many times, the only way I thought I would get an Emmy was to produce ‘Amazing Race,’ ” Lythgoe jokes.

Lythgoe is in fact earning his first statuette for a body of work that spans decades and began in England as a dancer-choreographer and eventually a TV exec and showrunner. He then made the tricky transition from the U.K. to the U.S.

“Part of it was bravery, and part of it was arrogance,” he says. “I’ve always entered doors, and I’ve never been frightened with moving on.”

Beyond his creative work, Lythgoe is also being honored for his charity efforts, having co-founded the Dizzy Feet Foundation, a nonprofit organization that gives scholarships to young dancers.

” ‘American Idol’ opened up my eyes to a philanthropic world,” he says. “I didn’t know about or think about how much we could do … (but) giving back makes me feel great.”

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