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June 17, 2024

Nigel Lythgoe Leaves ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

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Jan 6, 2024

Nigel Lythgoe, longtime judge and co-creator of the hit reality dance competition show “So You Think You Can Dance,” has stepped down from his judging duties on the show following multiple sexual assault allegations made against him.

Background on Nigel Lythgoe and ‘SYTYCD’

Lythgoe, 74, has been involved with “SYTYCD” since its inception in 2005. He co-created and executive produced the show, which features aspiring dancers competing for a cash prize and opportunity to work with professional choreographers and dancers.

As head judge, Lythgoe was known for his blunt criticism and tough love approach toward contestants. His signature catchphrase on the show was “It didn’t work for me.”

The show has been a success for Fox, running for 17 seasons and earning ten Emmy nominations. Lythgoe’s departure signifies the end of an era and major shift for the long-running dance competition.

Sexual Assault Allegations Surface

Trouble began for Lythgoe on December 30, 2023 when former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual harassment and assault during her time working with him on the show in the early 2000s.

According to Abdul’s lawsuit, Lythgoe would frequently make inappropriate sexual comments and advances toward her from 2002-2009 when they worked together. This included unwanted touching and sexual acts without consent.

On January 2, 2024, two more women came forward with sexual assault allegations against Lythgoe in a separate lawsuit – former contestants on his short-lived ABC reality show “All American Girl.” They accused him of unwanted kissing, groping, and promising career advancement in exchange for sexual favors.

Lythgoe Steps Down from Judging Role

In response to the growing number of concerning allegations, Fox and 19 Entertainment, producers of “SYTYCD,” announced on January 5 that Lythgoe would be stepping down from his role as judge on the show.

In statements, the companies said:

“In light of recent sexual harassment allegations, Nigel Lythgoe will no longer serve as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance,” Fox and 19 Entertainment said Friday in a joint statement. “We will announce additional judging panel members at a later date.”

Lythgoe has yet to directly address Abdul’s allegations but did deny those made by the “All American Girl” contestants, dismissing them as “outrageous.” His attorney says he “completely refutes the meritless allegations and intends to vigorously defend against all claims.”

Despite his denial, the volume of accusations seem to have made his position as head “SYTYCD” judge untenable. He co-created the show nearly 20 years ago and his reputation is indelibly tied to it, which put producers in a difficult position.

Removing Lythgoe allows Fox and 19 Entertainment to send a strong message about taking harassment allegations seriously, while protecting the reputation of the long-running franchise.

What Comes Next?

The future is unclear for Lythgoe following his “SYTYCD” exit. For now he still retains an executive producer credit on the show, but his status may be reevaluated as legal proceedings take shape. Fox and 19 Entertainment have not outlined any changes for Lythgoe’s production role.

As for “So You Think You Can Dance,” his departure signifies a major shift. The show must go in search of replacement judges to join Mary Murphy and newcomer Leah Remini behind the table this summer for Season 17. Auditions are currently underway.

With Lythgoe’s fame and integral role behind-the-scenes, filling the void left by his exit presents a challenge. His judgment and chemistry with Mary Murphy has been a signature part of the show’s format. The contest may struggle to capture that initial magic without him involved.

Ultimately the allegations against Lythgoe, especially from key figures within the “American Idol” franchise like Paula Abdul, appear to have shoved him out of the spotlight he commanded for nearly twenty years. The pending legal cases mean further revelations that could unravel his legacy are likely still to come.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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