Talent Recap

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

Nigel Lythgoe at Los Angeles Ballet's 2023 GalaPhoto by Andrew J Cunningham/Getty Images

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Renowned producer and judge on the hit reality dance competition So You Think You Can Dance, Nigel Lythgoe has announced his departure from the show’s upcoming Season 18. This follows accusations of sexual assault and harassment made against Lythgoe in two recent lawsuits.

Lythgoe Vows to Clear His Name Amidst Allegations

Lythgoe recently stated that he made the “difficult decision” to step away from the show voluntarily, in order for the focus to remain on the contestants and dancing. The new season is set to premiere on Fox on March 4. Lythgoe had been a mainstay judge on SYTYCD since its inception in 2005.

The first lawsuit was filed in late December by former American Idol judge Paula Abdul under California’s Sexual Abuse Accountability Act. Abdul alleges that Lythgoe groped and forcibly kissed her in an elevator 20 years ago while they were working together on American Idol. She also accuses Lythgoe of verbal harassment and bullying during her time on SYTYCD, which she claims led to her departure from the show.

In response to Abdul’s lawsuit, Lythgoe strongly denied her claims, calling them “false” and “deeply offensive.” He expressed bewilderment over her accusations given their platonic friendship and working relationship over the years. Lythgoe vowed to fight the “appalling smear” and restore his reputation.

The second lawsuit contained similar allegations of unwanted sexual advances but did not identify the plaintiffs. Lythgoe has not directly responded to this lawsuit.

Sony Pictures Television has reportedly opened an investigation into the allegations. Fox, 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions, who co-produce the show, stated that SYTYCD will continue on, but without Lythgoe’s involvement. No replacement judge has been named yet.

The Show Goes On, But Lythgoe’s Future Remains Unclear

Despite Lythgoe’s absence, SYTYCD will premiere its new season as scheduled on March 4, 2024. The show’s producers emphasized their commitment remains with the contestants.

Joining the judging panel this season are Allison Holker and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The focus of the long-running dance competition will be on the stage performances.

However, Lythgoe’s celebrated career hangs in the balance as the legal proceedings against him move forward. The allegations paint a disturbing picture of the reality TV powerhouse, who created and executive produced major shows like American Idol and SYTYCD for over 20 years.

Abdul claims she did not speak out earlier for fear of being blacklisted. Her lawsuit names 19 Entertainment and other companies as defendants for allegedly protecting Lythgoe. While also covering up the abuse over the years.

The 74-year-old Lythgoe built an influential career in the entertainment industry. Now, his reputation is threatened by the troubling accusations of sexual misconduct by multiple women involved in his shows.

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