Nigel Lythgoe knows reality competition shows. As an executive producer of both American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, the U.K. native has helped spur dreams of stardom worldwide. The producer's latest baby, Superstars of Dance, (Mondays, 8 pm/ET, NBC), has joined the performance show playing field with a global spin on the genre.
Unlike Idol's and Dance's battles of the neophytes, Superstars features professional dancers from eight different countries. Groups, couples and individuals compete in a format that was inspired in part by the Olympics, with judges from the participating countries scoring the routines. Hosted by "Lord of the Dance" Michael Flatley and TRL alum Susie Castillo, the costumes are lavish, the sets dazzle and the dancing is diverse. Just as Superstars is getting warmed up, TVGuide.com visited the set to chat with Lythgoe to discuss his inspiration for the series, why he thinks there's room for another dance show and how things have changed for him since he left his role with American Idol.
TVGuide.com: What was your core inspiration for this new show?
Nigel Lythgoe: It was, in truth, So You Think You Can Dance. We did a Bollywood routine, and everyone liked [it]. And then on the finale, we had [contestants] Joshua and Twitch, and people said 'I really like that Russian routine.' We had the option to create another dance show, and I didn't want to make another competition of wannabes. Otherwise, it's just a pale imitation of Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance, which so many people have attempted in the last year. I bet you the majority of them do not come back, because they were just not strong enough... . With So You Think You Can Dance there's a group of kids who want to be dancers. With Dancing with the Stars, that's a group of celebrities who want to dance. These are people who dance.
TVGuide.com: That said, you just noted that there are a lot of shows trying to imitate what you've done. Why do think there's room for another dance show?
Lythgoe: That's like asking me, "Just because Grey's Anatomy is in a hospital, is there room for another hospital show?" Well, yeah, ER is still brilliant. It depends on what the show is. The genre is dance; it's well-loved at the moment. It's in, shall we say. And it's happening all over the world.
TVGuide.com: What about people who don't tend to gravitate toward dance shows? Will Superstars have something for them?
Lythgoe: You've just seen two little lads there [Chinese monks who had just performed on the parquet], doing their martial arts routine. I think what's happening all over the world is that dance has changed a great deal. In America, hip-hop has elevated itself to gymnastic proportions. So I think the men can now appreciate it is for guys in dance, and for also, when you look at these teams, some of these girls are absolutely fantastic. Why wouldn't you want to watch it if you're a man? They're gorgeous.
TVGuide.com: For you personally, this season is going to be a bit different, especially as you've shifted your focus away from American Idol.
Lythgoe: Well, I don't have to dance, and I don't have to judge.
TVGuide.com: How has it been for you so far?
Lythgoe: I miss Idol. At the same time, I've been able to go to South Africa, Australia, and now create this. So I've found good use for my time.
TVGuide.com: Do you feel like you got closure on Idol? Would you ever go back?
Lythgoe: Who knows? At this moment in time, I'm moving on, but Idol's going to be around for a long time. It's a great show.... Never say never. James Bond said that once, and he came back.