Former “American Idol” Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe has defended the reality singing competition show in the wake of Paula Abdul’s criticisms that they knowingly allowed the pop singer’s stalker try out during Season 5.
As previously reported on AccessHollywood.com, last month, Paula Goodspeed, an “Idol” auditioner from Season 5, was found dead in her car near the home of judge Paula Abdul, due to an apparent suicide. And earlier this week, Paula Abdul claimed “Idol” producers knew the woman was the judge’s stalker when they put her on the show.
But, in a new interview on Thursday, with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, former “Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe defended the producer’s actions in putting the woman on the show.
“The producers… we’d seen her, she was an absolute fan of Paula’s,” Nigel explained. “[We thought], ‘Terrific!’… She had lovely photographs and everything else. [She was going to go] in there to go, ‘I’m your biggest fan.’ Now that gives Simon Cowell great material.”
In an interview with Barbara Walters, for the veteran talk show host’s Sirius radio show earlier this week, Paula Abdul claimed she pleaded with “Idol” producers to not allow the woman to audition for her and her fellow judges.
“It wasn’t until ‘American Idol’ that she ever knew how to get to me,” Paula told Barbara. “I said, ‘This girl is a stalker, and please, do not let her in.’… There are people, everyone knew. I mean, I was shaking. They thought it would [be good] for entertainment value.”
Nigel, however, said he does not remember things happening that way and said they would not have knowingly put a stalker on the show.
“Not to my awareness, Billy,” he said. “I can’t go back and deny that didn’t happen. We are talking about three years ago and many, many hundreds of auditions later.
“However, if that did happen it was still not the thought that she was dangerous to Paula or dangerous to herself,” Nigel continued. “That was three years ago and when Goodspeed did what she did [last month], the unfortunate actions that she took, [were] three years later. To sort of tie that to an audition on ‘American Idol’ I find… upsetting.”
Nigel, who stepped down from his “Idol” position in August, is now executive producer of the upcoming “Superstars of Dance,” which premieres January 4 on NBC.