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It’s Official: ‘Idol’ Producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick Have Been Eliminated

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick [photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]

Apparently there are a couple more job openings over at "American Idol."

Following the "resignations" of Fox reality chief Mike Darnell and judges Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Nicki Minaj, now longtime "Idol" producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick are exiting the show.

"Just had 10 days in the Bahamas, rain everyday. I get back to the States and get fired. Sad!...I'll smile again," Nigel posted on Twitter Saturday morning.

Nigel also tweeted a quote from Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu ("The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, people will say we have done it ourselves"), and retweeted a comment from Season 10 finalist Jacob Lusk that dubbed him "one the best things that's ever happened to TV."

A statement from Fox later confirmed earlier reports that Nigel's co-producer, Ken Warwick, is also leaving the show, although of course the word "fired" was never used. "The passion and dedication that Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick brought to 'American Idol' guided the show to become a true cultural phenomenon. While we are saddened they will no longer be executive producers on the show, we are grateful for their tremendous contributions and look forward to continuing to work with them on additional projects," the statement read.

Ken and Nigel — especially Nigel, with his tendency to mouth off to the press, buddy up to TMZ, and call out "morons" on Twitter — have been controversial figures in the "Idol" world. (Remember that icky, uncomfortable time when they confronted and disqualified Jermaine Jones on-air? Not cool.) However, their departures truly signify the end of an "American Idol" era. They have both been with the show since its very first season (save for Nigel's hiatus during Seasons 8 and 9), and they also worked together on "Pop Idol," the original British series that launched the entire international "Idol" franchise way back in 2001. For better or worse, these two men played a major role in shaping a showbiz phenomenon that has lasted more than a decade.

Clearly "American Idol" had a lot of problems this past season. But were those problems all Ken and Nigel's fault, or are they just the fall guys here? Nigel went on record recently saying it wasn't his decision to hire judges Mariah, Nicki, and Keith Urban, although he admitted that those judges' lack of chemistry caused the show to suffer.

But was it Nigel and/or Ken's decision to hype up Mariah and Nicki's feud, or to let that damning catfight footage get into TMZ's hands? Was it their decision to load the semifinals with unexciting male contestants (and no guitar-wielding male contestants) to ensure a female victory, even if that alienated the show's core audience? Was it their decision to pimp Lazaro Arbos's backstory, at the expense of more talented singers? My guess is many of these decisions were not entirely their own. But, we may never know for sure.

However, it is widely believed that Ken and Nigel were responsible for fuddy-duddy theme nights (Motown, the Great American Songbook, Burt Bacharach) that did little to attract the all-important 18-to-34 demographic, so maybe with them out of the picture, "Idol" can now finally get the youthful makeover it desperately needs to stay relevant and compete with shows like "The Voice."

I admit I'm going to miss nasty Nigel just a little bit, but he's not exactly going away. "Don't worry I'm on #SYTYCD. FOX still loves me. It's not a personal thing they just feel 'Idol' needs new leadership after 12 Seasons," Nigel also tweeted, clarifying that he is still a producer (as well as a judge) on another 19 Entertainment-affiliated Fox talent show, "So You Think You Can Dance." That series, which premiered its 10th season last month, has dealt with its own rating struggles, but at least it has steered clear of the sort of drama that plagued, and practically ruined, "Idol" this year.

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