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"American Idol" Hires New Executive Producer

Fox(LOS ANGELES) -- The production company behind American Idol has moved quickly to hire a new executive producer to take over the show.

FremantleMedia North America has named Per Blankens, who oversaw the Swedish version of Idol for more than five seasons, as the Fox competition's new executive producer, according to Variety.

Trish Kinane, an American Idol executive producer for FremantleMedia North America, says in a statement, “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 says he is honored to join American Idol, adding, “I can’t wait to get started as auditions for the new season are just a few weeks away.”

Fox confirmed over the weekend that American Idol had cut ties with longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick.

In a new statement, Lythgoe says, “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."

American Idol is continuing its search for a new judges' panel, with Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj all gone.

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