"I still don't know that she's going to leave 'Idol' … but until 'Idol' goes on the air, there are always opportunities for renegotiation — who knows what might happen?" Lythgoe tells reporters Thursday morning at the FOX press tour "SYTYCD" session in Pasadena, adding, "'Idol' is far bigger than any individual. It's had success all over the world with different judges. The format is what is successful."
Lythgoe took the stage before the network executives, however, and they were pretty definitive in saying that Abdul is done.
FOX Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice says the network making an offer that included a "substantial raise," but that she "chose not to return."
"It's something that very saddening to us," Rice says. "… We wanted her to return."
Mike Darnell, the head of FOX's unscripted division, also says that he's moving on with the assumption that Abdul is done, and said Lythgoe's statements "are just Nigel's opinion."
"Nigel, as you guys know by now, has his own opinions, and they can be very strong," Darnell says. "I'm certainly not going to speak for him."
"Idol" aside, though, Lythgoe confirms that "So You Think You Can Dance" is courting Abdul to be a guest on their panel.
"I don't know anyone who's had her experience of being a performer, a choreographer and a judge," says Lythgoe. "So absolutely we'll try to get her.
"I spoke to her yesterday morning… we didn't get into any discussion about her negotiations," he says. "['SYTYCD'] is in Vegas for Season 6 this weekend. She's coming out to meet me, and we're going to talk about what opportunities are out there."
If Abdul accepts, it would only be for a guest judge position only.
"Mary [Murphy] and I are the solid full-time judges," explains Lythgoe. "We have a rotating chair [for judges] , which I really like. I'm not a huge fan of four judges. It should never be about the judges. It should be about the talent up there. So I'm not talking about filling a third chair or a fourth chair."
— Additional reporting by Rick Porter
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