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Nigel Lythgoe Returns to Idol, Will Paula Follow Suit?

Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi, Randy Jackson, American Idol, Nigel Lythgoe Michael Becker/Fox; Mathew Imaging/Getty Images

Considering it's still the No. 1 show, it's hard to argue that American Idol is in dire need of some new blood. So instead, they got some old blood.

Namely Nigel Lythgoe, current So You Think You Can Dance judge and Idol's executive producer for the first seven years of its run (aka, the good years), and we couldn't be happier.

Not only is the show's cantankerous Brit quotient back up to one, but Lythgoe has some seriously fan-appeasing ideas up his sleeve. Enter Paula Abdul?

While Lythgoe's Idol responsibilities will be limited to behind-the-scenes goings-on and not include a judging capacity, there is a certain lovably loopy (and after last season, sorely missed) judge that he'd love to welcome back to the show.

"I still love Paula," he told Variety. "She's signed to CBS, probably exclusively, but I'd recommend we have her in a heartbeat."

And as for why he himself, what with his Fox reality show judging prowess, would not be keen to take over Simon Cowell's old chair…

"You do not follow Sean Connery in the role of James Bond," he said. "You follow George Lazenby. Simon Cowell is brilliant. He's as honest as one is possible to be. But we have to move on."

And while Lythgoe knows better to confirm whether negotiations are taking place with Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler or even music industry legend Jimmy Iovine, he has given them all his seal of approval.

Whoever ends up in the judging panel—or not, sorry Kara DioGuardi—Lythgoe said this year's group can only improve. Why? Blame Sean Connery.

"It's not because I disliked any of them, but the chemistry wasn't there," he told Variety of the judges last season. "It almost felt like Simon Cowell turned his back on Ellen. It felt uncomfortable."

Seems he doesn't have such a problem with honesty, either.

So talk is fine and all, but what changes, exactly, is Nigel looking to make? Glad you asked.

First off, he said, the show focuses too much on the judges. He'll try, despite the addition of an all-new, probably superstar panel, to turn the attention back on the kids. And the kids' singing—which means those long drawn-out, pity party-throwing video packages of auditioners' backstories will be cut considerably.

So far, so good, if you ask us.

Lythgoe's fellow bosses must also like what they heard, since the whole crew is welcoming him back with open arms—and dispensed press releases.

"American Idol became a juggernaut of epic proportions, but to me it was always like home," Lythgoe said.

Simon Fuller, another exec producer and cocreator with Lythgoe of the show said he is "so happy to be welcoming Nigel back to the Idol family…His unbridled passion has been missed."

Slightly less polished but no less enthusiastic were Twitter well-wishes for Nigel, including a welcome back message from Idol's longtime online adversary, Vote for the Worst.

"ha! ha! You little devils," Lythgoe tweeted back. I've missed you!!!"

But it was our own Ryan Seacrest, the reality host with the most, who said it simplest and best.

"See u at the office Nigel."

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Enough about Idol, get the latest on Nigel's other show, So You Think You Can Dance!

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