Per Blankens to executive produce “American Idol”

Veteran Swedish TV producer Per Blankens will take over executive producer duties on American Idol from Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick as Fox attempts to improve the reality franchise's ratings.
June 11, 2013

American Idol has recruited veteran Swedish TV producer Per Blankens (pictured) to executive produce season 13 of the long-running franchise, which will begin airing in the U.S. on Fox next January.

Blankens, who recently executive produced the Swedish version of the reality singing competition, replaces outgoing executive producer Nigel Lythgoe who tweeted over the weekend that he was “fired” from the show last week.

The series is coproduced by FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment, a Core Media Group company.

“Per is a creative and experienced executive who has been the show runner on the blockbuster Swedish Idol for more than five seasons,” said Trish Kinane, American Idol‘s executive producer for FremantleMedia, in a statement. “He is extremely passionate about Idol and I’m very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping Idol creatively vibrant. He brings the talent and energy needed to keep American Idol strong.”

In addition to overseeing Swedish Idol, Blankens has worked as head of programs for Meter Television, the Scandinavian prodco behind Idol, MasterChef and The Biggest Loser, and as the managing director for the Shine Group-owned company Friday TV. He served as producer on Idol in Sweden from 2007 to 2011.

“The Idol franchise is a worldwide phenomenon and I’m honored to be a part of the most popular of the franchises,” said Blankens. “I can’t wait to get started as auditions for the new season are just a few weeks away.”

Fox has since confirmed that Lythgoe and fellow executive producer Ken Warwick are leaving Idol following a turbulent season 12 that saw ratings sink to their lowest since the show premiered 12 years ago and the departure of most of the judging panel.

On Monday (June 10), Lythgoe said in a statement that he has “no complaints” about his exit if execs believe the move will improve ratings.

“It has been a tremendous honor to launch and build American Idol over the course of a decade and to see it recognized with 51 nominations and 6 Emmy Awards including the Academy’s highest honor, the Governors Award. To be a part of the spin-off program, Idol Gives Back, was incredible,” he said. “As well as raising nearly $200 million for various charities it was a personal life-changing experience for me. It also provided me with the opportunity to produce and direct a magical sequence with Celine Dion together with Elvis Presley. This continues to be one of the highlights of my entire career.”

“Over the years, I believe we have changed the face of American television forever and eventually created a true global¬† phenomenon,” he continued. “It has been inspiring to find and launch the careers of artists ranging from Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phillip Phillips and many more, spanning all musical styles and genres.

“I am truly saddened to be leaving a great team of friends and colleagues. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to maintain this incredible platform for America’s young talent. This will only happen with the success of the program. If the executives that are now in charge of American Idol believe that the ratings will improve with my departure,¬† I have no complaints. It has been a great ride and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Lythgoe will continue to executive produce So You Think You Can Dance, which also airs on Fox in the United States.

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