So You Think You Can Dance has looked to its own past to find a judge to step in for the departed Nigel Lythgoe.
JoJo Siwa, who served as a judge on the Fox show’s 17th season in 2022, will rejoin the panel for season 18. The singer and actress will join SYTYCD all-star and choreographer Allison Holker and former Dancing With the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy at the judges’ table for season 18, which is set to premiere March 4.
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Lythgoe, a co-creator of So You Think You Can Dance, left the show in early January after being sued by Paula Abdul, who claimed that Lythgoe sexually assaulted her during their time working together on both American Idol — where Abdul was a judge and Lythgoe an executive producer — and SYTYCD.
Abdul’s suit alleges that during an early season of American Idol, while the show’s cast and crew were on the road for auditions, Lythgoe pushed her against the wall of a hotel elevator and “grabbed her genitals and breasts and began shoving his tongue down her throat. Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know his behavior was not acceptable. When the doors to the elevator for her floor opened, Abdul ran out of the elevator and to her hotel room. In tears, Abdul quickly called one of her representatives to inform them of the assault but ultimately decided not to take action for fear that Lythgoe would have her fired from American Idol.”
The suit also alleges similar behavior from Lythgoe in 2015 when the two were discussing Abdul joining So You Think You Can Dance.
Lythgoe has denied the allegations in the lawsuit, saying in a statement that “To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement. For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear — and entirely platonic — friends and colleagues. … Out of the blue, I learned of these claims in the press and I want to be clear: not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for.”
In announcing his departure from So You Think You Can Dance, Lythgoe said he wanted the focus to remain on the constestants and that he would be “dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.” Lythgoe won’t be credited as an executive producer on the forthcoming season.
In addition to serving as a judge on SYTYCD, Siwa also competed on the 30th season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, partnering with professional ballroom dancer Jenna Johnson in the show’s first same-sex pairing. She was also a contestant on Fox’s Special Forces earlier this season.
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