'SYTYCD': Nigel Lythgoe on Lady Gaga, celeb judges, and why 'American Idol' should win an Emmy over 'SYTYCD' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Fans of So You Think You Can Dance know that exec producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe likes to talk, and his exclusive conversation with EW in his trailer before last night’s Top 6 performance show was no exception. The voluble Brit held forth on the controversial decision not to send anyone in the Top 20 home; how the guys continue to fall short of their female competition; why Lady Gaga is at least partially responsible for all the celeb guest judges this season; and why he favors American Idol and Ryan Seacrest over SYTYCD and Cat Deeley at this year’s Emmy Awards. “Having sat there for so many years,” he explains, “just flexing my muscles to get up every time I hear, ‘And the winner is Am…‘ but it’s always ‘Am…azing Race‘ — that is frustrating.” Check out the video below: 

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Read more:
‘SYTYCD’ Top 6 performance show recap: Animal Instincts
‘SYTYCD': Cat Deeley talks killer heels, busted fingers, and why Ryan Seacrest deserves an Emmy — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
‘SYTYCD': On the scene for Top 6 rehearsals, and an apology to Tyce Diorio, sorta — EXCLUSIVE

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  • Zach

    Eww, try to be impartial. The best thing I can say for Nigel on a personal level is that he wisely checked his own ego at the SYTYCD door this year and reduced the amount of time he talks.

    • Jethro

      Hey Zach, He checked his ego at the door, way no, he is more arrogant this season than ever. He never shuts up, talks on and on, is repetitive and clearly has his favorites.

      The producer or creator of a show should never be a Judge.

      • sara

        Agree 1000%.

    • D

      Zach, I agree with you.

    • kyrjar

      I like Nigel. I don’t agree 100% with everything he does — but he clearly CARES. He listens to the boards and makes changes. This year’s format with pairs til top ten and then all-stars was nearly perfect. Didn’t agree with the first week save (if that meant 4 the next week go — just give us an extra week) or judges choosing at top ten point.

      • ljp

        That’s why I love this show…they obviously care very much about the people. Actually I liked how they didn’t send anyone home the 1st night…gave us a second look at them, and what a stink it (usually) is to be off after just one performance!

  • Jethro

    Now I can clearly see how creepy he is! He is the reason why the show is not the top 10 summer show it was in seasons past.

    The celebrity Judges have done nothing to improve the show and the step forward, step back routine he does makes no sense.

    I hope FOX rethinks renewing this show, and find another show for Cat, hey, how bout replacing Ryan on AI or Carson on The Voice.

    • Holly

      Why should they not renew this show just because you don’t like one of the judges? The dancing is what I tune in for, and that has been amazing this season.

      • Squishmar

        Thank you, Holly. I love it when people say a show should be cancelled simply because they’ve grown tired of it. Hey, how about YOU not watching it? I still enjoy it immensely, because I, like you, tune in for the dancing and I still am incredibly moved and entertained by that every week.

      • kyrjar

        I would be devastated if the show were cancelled. I haven’t been as enamored with it as much as in seasons 2, 3, and 4 but there have been great moments and great dancers since then. Alex Wong, Kathryn!

    • D

      You realize that he has been on the show all along, right? Comment makes no sense.

    • pippenpatilopsicopolis

      This is the ONLY show I watch the whole year because it has FABULous dancing and choreography. I wouldn’t care if Oscar the grouch judged it!!
      I like Nigel, he cares. If you don’t like it turn it off and get your own life

  • sara

    American Idol can hardly be considered a reality show any more, it’s 99% scripted. As for Nigel’s ego it has all but turned me off SYTYCD, I cannot stand his non stop blathering. Ugggh.

  • jets

    I’ll stick up for Nigel. I credit him from making the show happen, and all the wonderful memories of amazing dance and dancers it has brought over the years. He was already rich with AI, and I get the sense SYTYCD is more of his passion project. He clearly loves dance. Also, he gets my respect for knowing what he’s talking about, as a judge, and delivering competent constructive criticism. And he’s occasionaly funny, even through his extreme Britishness. Calling for the show to be cancelled just out of spite for Nigel is just wrong. I hope the show can last at least three more years. I love it!

    • Squishmar

      I’ll stick up for Nigel as well. I totally agree with you about this show being his passion. And my main problem with Nigel was on Idol this season and I won’t be watching next year… but this show will always have my heart because it’s filled with incredible dance. And personally, I really don’t have a problem with him as a judge.

    • D


  • Don Geronimo


  • @Nigel

    SYTYCD was a must see for me since Season 2 but they last few years have been way less than stellar. From the obviously favorite dancers Jordan cough, Melanie cough, Ryan cough that you do mini infomercials on to the poor dancers who you don’t feel are worthy enough to be on the show .ie Michell and Ricky.

    Nigel you are dragging this show DOWN,

  • Jefffro

    When a dancer is as good as Melanie is…..it is hard for the judges not to just be honest about it. Melanie leaves most of the other dancers in the dust and in order to preserve the competition for the show, they judges have to make efforts to praise what is good about all of the other dancers…..even when Melanie is clearly the owner of the most talent and technique.

    • kyrjar

      Melanie is seriously that good, I agree. Sasha could have won in earlier years as could Marko probably. Melanie has what Kathryn, Katee and Allison had — she pairs up wonderfully with anyone — but her solos are a sight to behold.

      • Luka

        I agree but I wish they had allowed her to stretch and dance more outside her style. That would have gone a long way to put aside the snarky critiques of favoritism. The other dancers you mentioned all shined outside of their styles. It’s like the producers were over protective of Melanie and afraid if she slipped in a style they would risk losing their best dancer.

      • Tara Q

        Melanie isn’t a great dancer. She is overrated, and looked average dancing in her style, and other styles. Miranda danced better than she did, and both are contemporary dancers. Nigel shouldn’t be saying Melanie is the best and the favorite every night cause its manipulative. I hope the show is renewed for more seasons though. Its a good show.

    • Meli

      Fortunately or unfortunately, we have to remember the SYTYCD winner is the FAVORITE dancer, not the BEST dancer. It all comes down to the votes. I will say though with their final four this year, I won’t be disappointed with whoever wins.

      • ljp

        True to all of the above, but I do wish Nigel would quit announcing his “favorite” dancer night after night…I think it skews the voting. I also cringe every time he says “we are unanimous in this decision (to let you go)”. is that supposed to make it better?

    • Jslo

      Why does everyone keep saying she didn’t get pushed? Melanie did hip hop (2 times), jazz, the Viennese Waltz, broadway, etc. She did them all very well which may be why people don’t realize these are outside her area of expertise (contemporary). She is also extremely humble. Her dancing should speak for itself regardless of what the judges say.

  • Petra

    I credit Nigel with tweaking some life back into Idol. Simon and Ellen voluntarily leaving, and Kara being booted with the Steven Tyler replacement – was a big boost for Idol ratings.
    I guess you had to leave the cliche-riddled “DAWG” around for continuity, but Randy just showed how bad the judging had gotten to by Season 9.
    Nigel bringing back real good past Idol talent was a plus. As was the casting and the decision not to tear the performers down…and making LESS about the Judges egos…which by Season 9 had become very negative to fans since the egos were fed by bashing performers, and detrimental to ratings.

    Putting Jimmy Iovine in as full-time mentor and coach was excellent. The guy worked well with performers in a range of genres and really grew some of the talent he was given.
    Nigel missed some opportunities. I would have liked to see full songs starting at Top 4, and it would be better to have the performers do two songs really well than forced to try and learn 3 new songs.
    I think NIgel missed how good Haley Reinhart was and never gave her the pimp package wasted on Lauren Alaina, Casey, and part wasted on the once winner apparant James Durbin.

    • Faz

      Not sure that Jimmy I. was a very good addition.


    Celeb judges must go and take Mary Murphy with ‘em. This has been my favorite show on TV for the past several years. Not crazy about this year’s format, though.

    • Faz

      Mary should stay.

    • me

      Thankfully, Mary has calmed it down this season. Her grating, high-pitched screamo voice of seasons past seems to have taken a break, which makes her a lot more enjoyable to listen to.
      Celeb judges have been good, as long as there’s only THREE judging total, not four.

    • D

      No, no, no! The show is not the same without Mary.

    • Meli

      What I’ve never liked about the celeb judges is their inability or unwillingness to actually critique a performance. I thought for sure someone like Megan Mullally with her experience in musical theatre would’ve done more on her stint than say ‘oooh, that was good’ to everyone. And while Jessie Tyler Ferguson and NPH had some good moments at this, it was actually Lady Gaga who was the most honest in her assessments.

      • Anna

        I think Christina Applegate was awesome on Tuesday!. I never knew her dance background until this week, and I thought she was a breathe of fresh air in her critiques.

  • Sara

    Cat Deeley’s voice and accent is like nails on a blackboard. Replace her and SYTYCD would be a lot less irritating.

    • Jake V

      You are sooo soooo right and I abrely wat this show.

      Whenever I see that hag I continually find myself stumbling over the words ‘how’ ‘she’ ‘get’ ‘job’ in my mind.

      Makes no sense. Shes not super attractive, she seems dumb as a box of rocks and frankly, shes really annoying. She needs to go….

    • Faz

      Don’t be silly.

    • SaraS

      YES — finally!! Someone telling the truth about Cat Deely. She was good the first few seasons, but now she just milks everything and thinks she’s sooo cute. Her jokes are not funny. No way does she deserve any kind of award.
      She IS good at throwing to the judges and her comments after they get done with their performances though.

      • D

        Weird, I think she is actually getting better and better. She seems slightly less touchy-feely with the contestants this season.

      • liz

        dude, I think Cat is a cold phony barbie. I can’t take her compliments seriously, I don’t know why. she dresses really nice though (hence, barbie)

      • Vicki

        I love this show.. However, Cat got into a spell where she repeated everything at least 3 times… Drove me NUTS.

  • Jackie

    I hate when EW posts these interviews with video… not gonna watch it. I’d rather read questions and answers.
    So.. someone transcribe this for me, kthanksbye.

  • Sara

    Wow you people are probably all crazy Seacrest lovers. Cat is the best host on any reality show. She is so down to earth and warm with the contestants. She’s not phony or full of herself. I can’t believe Nigel would want Ryan to win over Cat. I’ve lost all respect for him…not that I had much to begin with. He hasn’t even been with the American Idol throughout their 10 years. He left for a couple of seasons. Not to mention, AI was torture to sit and watch with their lack of actual judging and the tween voters taking over.

    • D

      I actually think Tom Bergeron is much better than either Cat or Ryan. He is just really clever with the ad-libs. Cat is getting much better in this regard though. Anyone can read a teleprompter.

    • Meli

      Well my favorite host is still Phil Keoghan (who btw is just as overlooked in the Emmy department as Cat Deely while hosting a show that has won 7 Emmys for reality series). And he’s definitely easy on the eyes.

  • monkey

    james is RETARDED

  • D

    Nigel-thanks for listening to the comments. It seems like you have people that actually read these boards and report back to you. I have been watching since the park bench routine in Season 2, and I love the show!! Please keep Mary on as a judge, and get Mia back to do some choreography. Thanks.

  • tarigit


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