'American Idol': Nigel Lythgoe close to signing on as executive producer

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"So You Think You Can Dance" judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe is considering a return to his roots.

After departing from "American Idol" at the end of Season 7, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reveals that he's nearing a deal to come back as executive producer.

And this is not good news for the current judging panel. Lythgoe told Zap2it in April that if he were responsible for casting the show, he'd replace all of them. He cited Elton John and Usher as top picks for new blood and expressed an interest in rehiring Paula Abdul.

It may be too late for Abdul -- she's already moved on to her own CBS series -- but Elton John is another matter. THR also reports that "American Idol" creator and producer Simon Fuller is making ovations to the iconic British singer. And another name added to the list of candidates? Justin Timberlake. Fuller's reportedly going after him too.

Should Lythgoe take on the job, "American Idol" could look completely different when it returns for Season 10 in 2011. But if there is indeed a massive shake-up, the most likely to survive the purge is Randy Jackson. The judge, who has a year left on his contract, is said to be in a better position than his colleagues.

Lythgoe originally left "Idol" to spend more time focusing on "SYTYCD" and other ventures with Fuller's 19 Entertainment.

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Photo: FOX