Fox network’s reality-TV bad boy Mike Darnell is moving to Warner Bros TV, to create new content and oversee the studio’s interests in NBC’s singing competition hit where The Voice, ABC’s The Bachelor and Bachelorette, Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York, TMZ , and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, among other franchises. As president of Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television, which he assumes on Aug. 12, Mike will oversee first-run syndicated series produced by Telepictures, and primetime TV programing produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted TV, and will serve as the studio’s creative point person in its relationship with Shed Media U.S.
Last May, it was announced that, after 18 years, the guy who brought us Alien Autopsy, the Rick Rockwell/Darva Conger insta-marriage train wreck Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, and the slice-and-dice-a-chick series The Swan, as well as Idol, had stepped down as president of “alternative entertainment” at the Fox broadcast network. Darnell announced his departure as the network is looking to shore up its aged singing competition Idol, and its Idol – Lite singing show, The X Factor. Shoring up sliding shows is not what Mike best enjoys doing. In addition to overseeing the company’s interest in the Mark Burnett exec-produced The Voice, the Mike-Fleiss exec produced Bachelor franchise; Extra, Lisa Kudrow’s Who Do You Think You Are?, The Real Housewives of New York City, Hollywood Exes, and other programs, Mike will come up with new unscripted product for Warner Bros. TV. Mike’s best known for shows that make noise — shows like Joe Millionaire and Temptation Island — The kind of programs advertisers might balk at — until the ratings come in. One of Darnell’s most profitable shows was The Simple Life, starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie – relatively cheap and utterly repeatable.
“No single person has had a more profound impact on the unscripted and alternative genre than Mike Darnell,” Warner Bros. TV Group prez and chief content officer Peter Roth said in today’s announcement. Roth and Darnell know each other from Roth’s days at Fox, where they did When Good Pets Go Bad, When Animals Attack, and World’s Wildest Police Chases, etc.
Informed sources say they don’t expect Darnell to spend a whole lot of time micro-managing the studio’s existing product. “This is more about getting Mike to come up with stuff; more about getting Mike to do what he does” — which is knocking off somebody else’s show or coming up with something fresh. You don’t hire Mike Darnell to be a ‘current’ executive,” one source said.
“His creative instincts, his knack for embracing and capturing the zeitgeist, and his endless desire for discovery have fueled his extraordinary success. There was simply no way we could pass up the opportunity to have him join us at Warner Bros,” added Roth, to whom Mike will report – to the degree that Mike ever does report to anyone.