Nigel Lithgow joins ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ amid sexual assault allegations

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Nigel Lithgow is stepping down as judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” after being accused of sexual harassment in two lawsuits.

Lithgow, the show’s executive producer, is accused of groping Paula Abdul and forcibly kissing her in an elevator nearly 20 years ago. In the second lawsuit, two “All American Girl” contestants also accused him of forcibly trying to kiss them after a wrap party in 2003.

“I have informed the producers of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ of my decision to withdraw from taking part in this year’s series,” Lithgow said in a statement. Diversity, “I did so with a heavy heart but completely willingly because this great program has always been about dance and dancers, and that is where its focus needs to remain. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.

Lithgow, 74, has been a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” since it began in 2005. The 18th season is scheduled to premiere March 4 on Fox. Alison Holker and Maxim Chmerkovskiy have also been announced as upcoming judges. Season.

Sony Pictures Television’s 19 Entertainment, which co-produces “So You Think You Can Dance,” has begun investigating Lithgow, a source said. Diversity on Wednesday.

In a statement, Fox, 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions said the upcoming season “will move forward without Nigel Lithgow to ensure the show remains committed to the contestants who have earned the opportunity to compete on our platform.” Worked incredibly hard.”

“No decisions have been made regarding replacement judges for this season, which will premiere Monday, March 4 on Fox,” the companies said.

Abdul was a judge on both “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol”, which Lithgow also produced. She sued Lithgow on December 29 under California’s Sexual Abuse and Concealment Liability Act, reviving some lawsuits that otherwise would have been barred by the statute of limitations.

Abdul alleges that during one of the early seasons of “American Idol”, she and Lithgow were traveling to the show’s regional auditions and stayed in the same hotel. She alleges that Lithgow touched her breasts and genitals and forcibly kissed her in the elevator.

Nearly a decade later, she alleged that Lithgow invited her to his home for dinner and that he forcefully assaulted her while she was sitting on his couch. According to her lawsuit, in both cases, she resisted and fled.

She also alleged that Lithgow engaged in verbal harassment and bullying, and that she was paid less than the male judges on “American Idol”.

Lithgow has strongly denied Abdul’s allegations and said in a statement Saturday that they are “false” and “extremely offensive.”

“While Paula’s history of erratic behavior is well known, I cannot understand why she would file a lawsuit that she should know is false,” he said in a statement Saturday. “But I can promise that I will fight this horrible stigma with everything I have.”

In the second lawsuit, two contestants alleged that Lithgow once walked onto the set of “All American Girl” and pounced on the dancers’ buttocks and groped them. That lawsuit did not identify Lithgow, the plaintiff, or the show by name, instead only initials were used.

Abdul, who has made a second career as a reality show judge, said she did not speak out sooner because she feared being blackballed by one of the most powerful people in the industry. Her lawsuit named 19 Entertainment and several other companies as defendants, alleging they protected Lithgow and worked to cover up the abuse.

In his statement, Lithgow said he first learned of Abdul’s allegations by reading in the press.

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