Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe says this season's 'American Idol' is full of change

Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe says this season's 'American Idol' is full of change
'American Idol' executive producer Nigel Lythgoe poses with the Founders Award at the 39th International Emmy Awards in New York in 2011. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams, File)
by: Lindsay Zier-Vogel

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From the “American Idol” bus scouring the small towns of America and a new initiative to get shy singers onto the stage, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe promises the twelfth season of “American Idol,” is full of change.

And it’s not just the faces behind the judging table, he insists. Instead of solely relying on talent to major American cities, this season an “American Idol” bus hit the open road and travelled to small towns all over the U.S.

“The American Idol bus (went) out to the little towns this year with a producer on board . . . and brought kids back in to the audition, kids that wouldn’t necessarily be either close enough to one of the cities we were at or even have the financial means to get to one of the big cities,” Lythgoe says on a recent conference call. “That introduced new talent to us, I must say.”

“Idol” also got access to even more hopefuls through the new “I Nominate” program where friends and family nominated someone who they thought  had a great voice but was a too nervous to audition.

“Randy Jackson actually went out and we did some hidden camera stuff and shocked them and surprised them, and then gave them an audition number so that they actually skipped the lines and everything, came straight in to see the judges if Randy agreed them,” Lythgoe says. “That was quite interesting and gives a little something different to the audition process.”

And the changes don’t stop during the audition episodes. During Hollywood Week there’s a week for the guys and a week for the girls.  “It really gave us an awful lot more focus on our talent this year that allowed us to see the woods through the trees, if you will,” says Lythgoe. “We’re going to continue to do that during the Vegas rounds as well up until the point we get to our top ten.”

So who’s going to take it this year – the guys or the girls?

“There is more strength in the talent, I think, of the girls,” says Lythgoe. “That is not to say that one of the boys will not sneak in because there are, I would say just off the top of my head, five or six really good guys and only five of them are going to make the top ten.”

The name of the game though is to capture the vote, Lythgoe says. “It isn’t always about the voice; it is about charisma, it is about personality, it is about attracting an audience and doing that week on week.

“If there was an absolute formula to stick to in order to win ‘American Idol’ we’d have probably found it by now, bottled it, and I’m sure one of the production companies would be selling it but we haven’t.  It’s really what grabs you.  Does the story grab you?  Does the song of the week grab you?  It’s a difficult one. 

Season 12 of "American Idol" premieres on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. on CTV.

The “American Idol” Season 12 Audition Schedule as of January 16, 2013:


Wednesday, Jan. 16 – Season Premiere, Part 1 – New York Auditions (CTV)
Thursday, Jan. 17 – Season Premiere, Part 2 – Chicago Auditions (CTV Two)
Wednesday, Jan. 23 – Audition Episode (CTV)
Thursday, Jan. 24 – Audition Episode (CTV Two)
Wednesday, Jan. 30 – Audition Episode (CTV)
Thursday, Jan. 31 – Audition Episode (CTV Two)

(All episodes begin at 8 p.m. ET/PT unless otherwise noted)


About LindsayLindsay Zier-Vogel has been working for CTV.ca since 2008. Lindsay’s highlights include interviewing the famed American choreographer Bill T. Jones and Canadian prima ballerina Karen Kain, as well as covering the Juno Awards. Follow her on Twitter!


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