Nigel Lythgoe officially steps down from ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ following multiple sexual assault allegations, including a lawsuit from Paula Abdul.
Choreographer and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is stepping down from his position as a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” following two lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault. The first lawsuit alleges that Lythgoe groped and “forcibly kissed” Paula Abdul in an elevator nearly 20 years ago. The second, filed by two “All-American Girl” contestants, also accuses Lythgoe of similar behavior in 2003.
Lythgoe, who has been a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” since its debut in 2005, announced he would “step back from participating” in the forthcoming season of the show to focus on “clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”
“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 tells Variety. “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.”
Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Television’s 19 Entertainment, a co-producer of the show, has opened an investigation into Lythgoe. 19 Entertainment, alongside Dick Clark Productions, revealed that the upcoming season will proceed, but without Lythgoe, “to ensure the show remains committed to the contestants, who have worked incredibly hard for the opportunity to compete on our stage.”
The 18th season of “So You Think You Can Dance” premieres on March 4 on Fox, with judges Allison Holker and Maksim Chmerkovskiy — but no decisions have been made yet for a judge to replace Lythgoe.
Paula Abdul, who was a judge on the Lythgoe-produced “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol,” sued Lythgoe on December 29 under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act. This legislature revived lawsuits that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.