LOS ANGELES - The Emmy Awards ceremony won't be getting the "American Idol" touch after all.

Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, executive producers for Fox's hit talent contest, have backed out of producing the prime-time Emmy ceremony in September, the TV academy and network said Friday.

The pair cited their upcoming commitments and current demanding schedule, including last week's "American Idol" charity special and the show's finale later this month.

They will be replaced by Ken Ehrlich, an Emmy and Grammy awards telecast veteran.

"We respect Nigel and Ken's decision and are fortunate that Ken Ehrlich has agreed to return to executive produce his fourth Primetime Emmy telecast," TV academy chairman Dick Askin said in a statement.

Askin broke the news to the academy's board of governors Friday.

Lythgoe and Warwick said in a statement they "realized that we could not devote the creative energy and time necessary to make the Emmys outstanding" for the TV academy and for Fox, which will air the awards.

When their hiring was announced in February, Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori said the pair have raised "the creative bar with their innovative work" on top-rated "American Idol" and would do the same for the Emmy broadcast.

The event could use a shot in the arm. Although host Conan O'Brien drew raves, last year's broadcast averaged about 16 million viewers, the fourth-smallest audience ever for the ceremony.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 59th Primetime Emmy Awards show is set for Sept. 16 at the Shrine Auditorium. Nominations are to be announced July 19.

The Emmy ceremony's executive producer has been announced as late as July, so Ehrlich isn't starting out behind schedule.

"American Idol" wraps its season on May 23, but Lythgoe and Warwick plan to remain busy.

Lythgoe, who co-created Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," is a judge on the summer dance contest series. He's also president of 19 Television, the TV division of 19 Entertainment, the company founded by "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller.

Warwick is senior executive producer for worldwide productions of the "Idol" format for Bertelsmann AG-owned FremantleMedia North America, which produces "American Idol" with 19 Television.

The Emmy telecast is scheduled to air on Fox at 8 p.m. Sept. 16 from the 6,500-seat Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. *