Nigel Lythgoe, longtime judge on the hit reality dance competition “So You Think You Can Dance,” announced January 5th that he is stepping down from his role on the show. This comes amid sexual assault allegations made against Lythgoe by former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul and others.
Allegations Against Lythgoe
On December 30th, 2023, Paula Abdul filed a lawsuit accusing Lythgoe of sexual harassment, assault and battery during her time as a judge on “American Idol” from 2002-2009. 1
In the lawsuit, Abdul alleges multiple instances where Lythgoe made inappropriate sexual comments and unwanted physical contact with her. This includes Lythgoe allegedly groping her breasts without consent.
Since Abdul came forward, several other women involved in shows produced by Lythgoe have made similar assault allegations against him. These allegations span decades of Lythgoe’s long career in the entertainment industry.
Lythgoe has strongly denied all accusations against him, calling them “outrageous and untrue.” 2
Lythgoe’s SYTYCD Career
Nigel Lythgoe has been involved with “So You Think You Can Dance” since its inception in 2005. He co-created and executive produced the show, as well as serving as head judge for the first 16 seasons.
SYTYCD features dancers competing in various styles of dance as they vie to be named “America’s Favorite Dancer.” The show has been nominated for over 20 Emmy Awards and received several honors.
Lythgoe took a brief hiatus from the judging panel for Seasons 17 and 18 in 2021-2022. However, he returned as a full-time judge again for Season 19 this past summer.
Now, amid the assault allegations against him, Lythgoe has made the decision to permanently step down from his role with the show.
Lythgoe Steps Down from SYTYCD
On January 5th, Nigel Lythgoe announced he would be leaving his position as executive producer and judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” effective immediately.
In a statement, Lythgoe said: “I am deeply saddened by these allegations from my former co-workers…Out of respect for the contestants of the show, the dedicated fans and the rest of the crew, I have decided that it is in the best interests of the series for me to leave.”3
The exact details of his departure and who may replace him going forward remain unclear. Fox, the network which airs SYTYCD, has not provided further comment.
However, the show is expected to move forward with production and casting for its upcoming 17th season. Fans anxiously await news of how SYTYCD will grapple with this major shakeup to one of its starring roles.
While serious allegations have been made against one of reality TV’s biggest names, the truth behind the claims against Nigel Lythgoe has yet to fully come to light. For now, his once towering presence on SYTYCD and other major shows has dimmed significantly. Time will tell if he manages to make a comeback, or if this spells a permanent downfall for the prominent producer.
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