Nigel Lythgoe Exits ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ After Sexual Assault Lawsuits

 Paul Abdul and two contestants from “All American Girl” recently sued the producer

Getty Images

Nigel Lythgoe on Friday stepped down from the Fox reality competition show “So You Think You Can Dance” after three allegations of sexual assault were leveled against him, one of them by former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul.

“I have informed the producers of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ of my decision to step back from participating in this year’s series,” Lythgoe wrote in a statement.

“I did so with a heavy heart but entirely voluntarily because this great program has always been about dance and dancers, and that’s where its focus needs to remain. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation,” he concluded.

Lythgoe co-created the show with Simon Fuller in 2005 and Lythgoe has stayed on as an executive producer and frequent judge.

A joint statement from 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions, and Fox shared with TheWrap read, “19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions, and Fox can confirm the upcoming season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ will proceed, although without Nigel Lythgoe, to ensure the show remains committed to the contestants, who have worked incredibly hard for the opportunity to compete on our stage.”

Abdul, who was one of the original judges on “American Idol,” was the first to sue Lythgoe on Jan. 2. She claimed that in 2002 Lythgoe groped her in the elevator of their hotel where the show was fliming and “began shoving his tongue down her throat.” The suit also cites an incident in 2015 when the producer allegedly forced himself on top of her during a dinner at his home and tried to kiss her.

Lythgoe denied the charges, which he said he only heard about when news of Abdul’s suit broke. He brushed off her version of events as a product of the singer and dancer’s “history of erratic behavior.”

Her suit was followed by two former contestants of the 2003 talent competition “All American Girl,” who claimed that Lythgoe behaved inappropriately in the dressing room of the show and at a private party at his house.

“So You Think You Can Dance” returned for its long-awaited Season 17 in May 2022 after a long pandemic break, but its return was overshadowed by the tragic suicide in December 2022 of dancer, mentor and judge Stephen “tWitch” Boss.

The series was greenlit for Season 18 with a new slate of judges announced, including Boss’s widow and fellow SYTYCD alum, Allison Holker and “Dancing With the Stars” pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

As of now, Fox and the production companies behind the show, stated, “No decision has been made as to a replacement judge for this season, which will premiere on Fox on Monday, March 4.”

Past judges include Mary Murphy, choreographer Mia Michaels, Adam Shankman, Jason Derulo and JoJo Siwa.

“Glee” star Matthew Morrison was selected as a judge for Season 17, but was quickly replaced after the actor directly contacted a contestant in violation of the show’s policies. He was replaced by Leah Remini.

Loree Seitz contributed to this report.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.