UPDATE, 10:55 AM: Nigel Lythgoe just released a statement following Fox’s naming of Per Blankens as his replacement as American Idol‘s new executive producer. In it, Lythgoe called his tenure on Idol “one of the highlights of my entire career” and a “a great ride,” adding that “if the executives that are now in charge of American Idol believe that the ratings will improve with my departure, I have no complaints.” Read full statement below the Per Blankens announcement.
PREVIOUS: Fox is moving quickly on setting the pieces for an expected overhaul on American Idol following a season that hit all-time lows. After David Hill was put in charge of the show Wednesday, the network officially dismissed longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick over the weekend. And this morning, it set Per Blankens as new executive producer for the upcoming 13th season. Blankens comes from Sweden, where he most recently executive produced the local version of Idol. “Per is a creative and experienced executive who has been the showrunner on the blockbuster Swedish Idol for more than 5 seasons,” said Trish Kinane, American Idol executive producer for FremantleMedia North America. “He is extremely passionate about Idol and I’m very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping Idol creatively vibrant.”
In addition to his work on Idol, Blankens was the Managing Director of Friday TV, part of The Shine Group and Head of Programmes for Meter Television, a leading Scandinavian production company. There, he oversaw productions including Idol, Master Chef and The Biggest Loser. Blankens has won multiple awards for Swedish Idol and other television work including the Crystals and Aftonbladet TV Prize in Sweden.
It has been a tremendous honor to launch and build “American Idol” over the course of a decade and to see it recognized with 51 nominations and 6 EMMY Awards including the Academy’s highest honor, the Governors Award. To be a part of the spin-off program, “IDOL GIVES BACK” was incredible. As well as raising nearly $200 million for various charities it was a personal life-changing experience for me. It also provided me with the opportunity to produce and direct a magical sequence with Celine Dion together with Elvis Presley. This continues to be one of the highlights of my entire career. Over the years, I believe we have changed the face of American television forever and eventually created a true global phenomenon. It has been inspiring to find and launch the careers of artists ranging from Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phillip Phillips and many more, spanning all musical styles and genres. I am truly saddened to be leaving a great team of friends and colleagues. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to maintain this incredible platform for America’s young talent. This will only happen with the success of the program. If the executives that are now in charge of “American Idol” believe that the ratings will improve with my departure, I have no complaints. It has been a great ride and I’ve loved every moment of it. After dedicating over 12 years to “Idol,” I look forward to continuing work on my beloved “So You Think You Can Dance,” which is going strong in its 10th season. In addition, this will allow me more time to devote to Nigel Lythgoe Productions and our exciting new partnership with Shine America.