Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe says he is heartbroken over the departure of judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. During a call with On Air With Ryan Seacrest this morning, Nigel said, “I’m so upset.”

He talked about speaking with J.Lo after her own on-air chat with Ryan on Friday, saying, “I have to respect both Jennifer and Steven’s decisions. They’ve got a much bigger career than just sitting judging Idol. They’re both very talented people and you have to respect their decision to carry on and do what they were doing before Idol. It breaks my heart, because I love them both dearly.”

He admitted that while he was “shocked” by Jennifer’s news, he acknowledges how much else she has going on in her career right now.

As for who will be replacing the judges, Nigel said, “There are so many names coming at me at the moment. You know, I joke about it and say, ‘Oh I’m looking for the Three Stooges,’ … but at the end of the day I think what we’ve got to talk about is just using people for a year.”

Ryan issued his support for the idea, and Nigel added, “If we do want these big stars, and we do, you cannot take them away from what they do … you’re just constantly keeping things moving and it’s interesting to see.”

The main thing Nigel’s looking for, he said, is a group with “chemistry.”

As for rumors that Nigel and Simon Fuller may also be exiting the show, he shot that notion down.

“Don’t even joke about it,” he said.

Credit: RyanSeacrest.com Photo: Nigel Lythgoe Talks About Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler Departures from American Idol With Ryan Seacrest