While the future of "American Idol" is still being plotted, it seems the producers behind the Fox mainstay are looking to Europe to save the struggling show.
FremantleMedia, one of three "Idol" production partners (including Fox and 19 Entertainment) today announced that Per Blankens has been named executive producer of "Idol" for season 13. The news comes on the heels of Nigel Lythgoe's firing, which was officially confirmed over the weekend.
Blankens comes from the Swedish version of Idol, where he also served as executive producer.
Says FremantleMedia North America executive Trish Kinane: "Per is a creative and experienced executive who has been the showrunner on the blockbuster 'Swedish Idol' for more than five season. 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.”
For his part, adds Blankens: "The 'Idol' franchise is a worldwide phenomenon and I'm honored to be a part of the most popular of the franchises, 'American Idol.' I can't wait to get started as auditions for the new season are just a few weeks away.”
Blankens was previously with Friday TV, part of The Shine Group and programming head for Meter Television, one of Scandinavia’s leading production companies. There, he oversaw productions including "Idol," "Master Chef" and "The Biggest Loser." During his most recent stint on "Swedish Idol," the show had a 51 percent share of total viewers and, among young viewers, ranked as the No. 1 show in its time period with market shares of up to 60 percent.
On the flip side, the U.S. version of "Idol" has lost 10 million viewers over the last two years. Its most recent finale, capping off season 12, was down more than 40 percent when compared to season 11.