If you thought Simon Cowell was blunt, how about this?
The Idol judge has nothing on his boss Nigel Lythgoe, who told OK! that this year’s winner David Cook could be as big as AI alum Daughtry – but only if he gets some personality.
The exec producer also revealed for the first time that the smash hit show had a run-in with the White House earlier this year over the President’s appearance on the Idol Gives Back special!
And he told us about his bizarre plans to turn America second biggest show, So You Think You Can Dance, into a tinned-food drive.
The Idol exec producer said yesterday that both of the finalists, Davids Cook and Archuleta, could have a shot at the big time — except that they both suffer from a lack of onstage charisma.
Lythgoe said that he thinks 25-year-old Cook, who took the Idol title two weeks ago, could be “enormous for a long time” and even rival the success of fellow rocker Chris Daughtry, who came fourth in the show’s fifth season.
“He can certainly sing – and I’d like to see a bit more personality when he’s singing,” he said.
“And that was the only thing that I think our finalists lacked a little bit this year, was more charisma.”
He said that the pair should use the American Idol Live tour this summer, which starts in Glendale Az. on July 1, to learn to put a unique sparkle into their performances.
Nigel, 58, also spilled that during the planning for the second annual Idol Gives Back fundraising special, which aired in April, America’s biggest TV show had a spat with no less a power than the White House!
He said that the show’s producers were so disappointed with President Bush’s efforts to combat the very poverty that the show was trying to relieve that they were embarrassed to have him on their TV show.
But Nigel said that Idol relented under pressure from the Pres’s people, and allowed him to speak during the star-studded broadcast.
“The President is always saying ‘I want to be on [Gives Back],” said the Brit.
“We didn’t ask the President this year to say anything because we are all a bit embarrassed about him, and the office insisted that, because the [primary] candidates were on it, the President would like to come on and say ‘thank you.’"
So far Nigel says, Idol Gives Back, has raised some $142million for projects in the US and Africa. But that hasn’t stopped him for developing some far more home-grown ways to help the poor.
The exec, who is also on the board of the after-school program LA’s Best, said that he is going to make the studio audience for So You Think You Can Dance donate canned goods for the program in exchange for an admission ticket.
"So if you want a ticket for So You Think You Can Dance, all you have to do is bring a can of fruit or vegetables or something.
"And I’ll come and collect it each week and just take it away.
"And how sad is this? How sad is this in Los Angeles. I get angry with it,” he said.
So You Think You Can Dance airs on Fox on Wednesday and Thursdays at 8pm ET/PT.
Tickets for the Pop Tarts American Idol Live Summer Tour 2008, featuring the final 10 contestants from season 7 of American Idol, are on sale now.