Why Is Nigel Lythgoe Panicking?

Nigel Lythgoe (FOX)

Nigel Lythgoe (FOX)

With it being “American Idol” finale week (tonight and Wednesday) and “So You Think You Can Dance” premiere week, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe wasn’t exactly relaxed speaking to reporters this morning.

When asked how he is, the Brit replied, “Panicking. I’ve got the ‘American Idol’ finale tonight and the two-hour extravaganza tomorrow night,” he said. On who he thinks will win the “Idol” crown Wednesday night, he quipped, “The one with the most votes.”

Enough “Idol” talk, though. The producer was on hand to discuss the new eighth season of “So You Think You Can Dance,” which premieres Thursday at 8/7c on Fox, and features the triumphant return of judge Mary Murphy.

Preview Mary’s Return:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance/1214/1899635158/Mary-Murphy-Returns/embed 580 476]

Here are some highlights…

Are you excited to have Mary Murphy back?
Nigel: Yes, as you know Mary has now fought and beaten thyroid cancer. I think she’s going to be a little quieter this season. But she’s building back up to it. Evidently, she is only as loud as a small hair dryer now and not the jet engine that she used to be.

It wasn’t clear why Mary wasn’t a regular last year before her illness. She said it was Fox’s choice.
Nigel: There are a number of reasons. One, initially, I don’t believe Fox could come to a deal. Then after that, I wanted Mary to choreograph and I wanted to swap the chairs with Mia [Michaels] and Mary because I think they’re both great choreographers and if you judge, you can’t choreograph. I’m insistent on that. What I wanted to try to do was have Mia judge some weeks and Mary take over and it didn’t happen and then of course Mary got ill.

Why are you paring the kids with each other for the first five weeks before bringing in the All Stars?
Nigel: Last year we didn’t have a top 20; we had a top 10. A lot of people didn’t buy that. They wanted to see the interaction between the amateurs… What I wanted to try to do this year is please everybody and that is do a top 20, bring them down to the 10 then introduce the All Stars into that.

Who are the All Stars going to be?
Nigel: We are not choosing our All Stars until we see who are in the top 10. If we have really good street dancers then we’ll bring in really good [street] All Stars.

And you have new choreographers introduced as well?
Nigel: I can’t [say] at the moment. We’re still booking. There will be new choreographers on board.

Are there other major chances to ‘Dance?’
Nigel: I’m not sure we have to. We’ve got some very, very interesting characters. Talent comes first and foremost. The kids who have come this season, a lot of whom are not formally trained, are absolutely brilliant. We’re gonna sit back and watch the talent come forward. We have a revolving judge chair this year too, so I’m going to have a bit of fun with that because as you know, Adam Shankman is doing ‘Rock of Ages’ and will join us when he can hopefully. But otherwise that’s going to be a revolving chair.

Nigel also said he’s been working with this season’s frequent “Idol” contributor Will.I.Am lately – which might just be a hint at one potential guest choreographer or judge this year.

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