Paula Abdul, Nigel Lythgoe Paula Abdul, Nigel Lythgoe

So You Think You Can Dance will "certainly" invite Paula Abdul to the show's finale, judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe exclusively told Wednesday. The former American Idol producer has wanted Abdul on Dance for years, and her sudden departure from Idol on Tuesday leaves her "no excuse" not to appear, he said. (Abdul's rep didn't return a call for comment.) Talking and walking through the Kodak Theatre during rehearsals for Dance, Lythgoe didn't reveal what's to come on Wednesday and Thursday's two-part Dance finale. But we did catch a bouncy, rollicking Slumdog Millionaire-inspired number we loved. Will you invite Abdul to appear on the season finale?
Lythgoe: I really haven't thought about it, to be frank with you. ... The only thing I'm concentrating on is my finale. I'm worried about what's going on on that stage. But yeah, I think we will, for the Thursday [finale]. I certainly will invite her. ... There might still be time but I'm not sure there might still be seats! You don't have an opening for a permanent judge. What kind of position are you offering her on your show?
Lythgoe: I've offered her a judge/choreographer [position] ever since Season 1. But of course, [Fox] said, "No, no, we can't have her judging So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol." So now, if she remains free from American Idol, she's got no excuse. How high-profile or permanent a role could she have on Dance?
Lythgoe: That I don't know. I've got Mary [Murphy] as a permanent judge and I like to swap the [other] judges, as you know. I only really like three judges. That's why I never had four on Idol. I honestly don't know, I've not thought about it. This is something that happened last night. So not a permanent role, 'cause at the moment there's Mary and I. But I don't know where the show's going to go after fall. So we'll see what happens. I also like Adam Shankman, I also like Debbie Allen, I also like Lil' C, Shane Sparks... We saw such huge figures reported in Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest's recent contract renewals. Is Seacrest worth more to Idol than Abdul?
Lythgoe: Oooo, good question. I think that the whole quartet is worth something to Idol. But at the end of the day, there's no one, including Simon, who is indispensable. The show is a success all over the world and it [doesn't] have Randy, Paula and Simon on it. Will Idol lose popularity without her?
Lythgoe: No. I don't think the show will drop off in popularity without anybody as long as the talent that comes with it is as good as last season. But Dance would certainly get a boost from her joining the show, wouldn't it?
Lythgoe: I would have thought so. I think she's a brilliant judge. I think she's really supportive of everybody and everything that she's done in her past — dancer, choreographer, judge, performer — she's perfect. Any surprises planned for the finale?
Lythgoe: Yes. [Pause.] If I said anything it wouldn't be a surprise, would it?