"American Idol" has a new executive producer, after letting go of Nigel Lythgoe: Per Blankens, most recently the executive producer on the Swedish version of "Idol," has been tapped to head the American version.
"The 'Idol' franchise is a worldwide phenomenon and I'm honored to be a part of the most popular of the franchises, 'American Idol,'" Blankens said. "I can't wait to get started as auditions for the new season are just a few weeks away."
Also read: Nigel Lythgoe Confirms 'American Idol' Exit
As reported by TheWrap last week, Lythgoe and longtime producer Ken Warwick are not returning for Season 13 of "Idol."
The 13th season of "American Idol" will premiere January 2014.
Also read: News Corp's David Hill to Oversee 'American Idol,' 'X Factor'
The hiring of Blankens is the latest news in a major shakeup for "American Idol," which suffered ratings blows with its most recent season. In addition to the departures of Lythgoe and Warwick, judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson also departed the show this year. TheWrap was the first to report last month about the major 'Idol' shakeup.
Trish Kinane, the executive producer of "American Idol" for FremantleMedia North America, said that Blankens will bring "the talent and energy needed to keep 'American Idol' strong."
"Per is a creative and experienced executive who has been the show runner on the blockbuster 'Swedish Idol' for more than 5 seasons," Kinane said. "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."
Blankens, who served as the producer on Swedish "Idol" from 2007 to 2011, has also been the managing director for the Shine Group's Friday TV and was the head of programs for production company Meter Television, where he oversaw productions such as "Idol" and "The Biggest Loser."
Meanwhile, Lythgoe has issued an official statement on his departure from "American Idol," calling his tenure on the show "a tremendous honor."
Taking particular pride in his part in the charity spinoff show "Idol Gives Back," Lythgoe said he is "truly saddened" regarding his departure, adding, "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."
Read Lythgoe's full statement below.
"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. 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. 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. After dedicating over 12 years to 'Idol,' I look forward to continuing work on my beloved 'So You Think You Can Dance,' which is going strong in its 10th season. In addition, this will allow me more time to devote to Nigel Lythgoe Productions and our exciting new partnership with Shine America."