Nigel Lythgoe Reveals 'American Idol's' Pia Toscano Was 'Never A Frontrunner'

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Viewers and judges alike were shocked on Thursday when (apparent) frontrunner Pia Toscano was booted from “American Idol.”

Now, Nigel Lythgoe, the show’s executive producer, has revealed that despite the popular perception, the New York native was never as close to the title as many believed.

“Number one, I know the results so I know she was never a frontrunner,” Nigel told Yahoo columnist Lyndsey Parker when asked about Pia’s shocking elimination at the callback auditions for Nigel’s other reality hit, “So You Think You Can Dance,” in Las Vegas on Friday. “But when I heard that she was going, I was pretty upset — angry, you could say. But the more I’ve sort of thought about it, the more I’ve calmed down, I’ve realized that at the end of the day, this is going to happen every week now because the talent is so strong.

“The fact of the matter is that it appears that Pia didn’t connect with the audience as much as we maybe think she did,” he continued. “And she wasn’t voted through. That’s the fact of the matter.”

The 61-year-old reality mastermind said that fans should expect to be surprised on a weekly basis at this point in the competition, due to the immense talent filling the “Idol” stage this year

“It appears that it’s this huge drop because [Pia] has never been in the bottom three before, but neither was Casey [Abrams], neither was Paul [McDonald] last week,” he explained. “So every week it’s going to happen that a really good singer goes.”

The judges used their lone save of the season to keep beardy crooner Casey Abrams on board two weeks ago, but was their save too soon? Not according to Nigel.

“I agree with the judges saving Casey. I think Casey is unique, and really good for ‘Idol,’ and doesn’t just give us the same old singer every time; he gives us something totally different. I’m all for that,” he told the Yahoo writer.

With Pia’s elimination in mind, Nigel hinted “Idol” might soon consider a new voting strategy that would ultimately allow the judges’ panel more of a say regarding who gets to stay from week to week.

“If we change the rules, maybe next season, maybe look at doing the same way we do on ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ so that America votes for the bottom three, and then the judges decide who goes home,” Nigel said. “Then they take the blame!”

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