EXCLUSIVE: It’s the end of an era at ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Conrad Green, who has been executive producer/showrunner of the veteran reality series since its launch, will depart after the end of the current 18th season. He is leaving to join Fox‘s upcoming Utopia as executive producer. Also joining the upcoming social experiment reality series as executive producer is Jon Kroll (Big Brother, The Amazing Race). Green was part of the original BBC Worldwide Prods. team of Dancing that pitched the format to ABC. His nine-year, 18-cycle stint will come to an end at the May 20 season finale. “I’m enormously proud of everything we’ve achieved on Dancing With The Stars,” he told Deadline. “This has been the job of a lifetime and I’m thankful for every performance, every dancer and every colleague I’ve worked with over the years, and to ABC and BBC Worldwide Prods. for these past eighteen seasons. What was once a small dancing show has thrived and become a cultural phenomenon. But after almost 10 years, the opportunity to take on a project with the immense potential of Utopia was simply too good to pass up. The ambition and scale of the challenge is thrilling. I’ll miss everyone I’ve worked with on Dancing With the Stars and look forward to this next exciting chapter.”
Utopia, from Big Brother creator John de Mol and his Talpa Media US, is based on a format by de Mol launched in the Netherlands in January. It will feature a group of 15 everyday people whisked to an isolated, undeveloped location in the U.S. – for an entire year – to create their own civilization. There will be eliminations, and there will be an online component as participants will be followed by cameras 24/7. The big-scale project is now in the process of setting a budget and locking in a location. Green and Kroll both have experience working on de Mol’s Big Brother in the format’s early days over a decade ago. British-born Green served as an executive producer on the UK version in 2000, Kroll served in the same capacity on the CBS version for three seasons between 2001-03. Kroll could draw from personal experience — he grew up on a commune in Mendocino county that was in a sense building an utopian society. Kroll, repped by APA and Katz Golden Rosenman, also served as EVP of original programming for New Line TV and created and executive produced the UPN series Amish In The City.
Before joining Dancing With The Stars, Green, repped by ICM Partners and attorney David Tenzer, also worked on UK’s Popstars and did a stint as BBC’s head of factual entertainment. He has led Dancing to a best reality competition series Emmy nomination every year the show has been eligible — eight in a row so far. As is the case with all aging reality franchises, the ratings for Dancing have come down and, starting last fall, the show went from two to one episode a week. Still, Dancing has managed to produce two cycles a season for nine years, not an easy task for a talent competition. Dancing made several changes going into this season, including Erin Andrews replacing Brooke Burke-Charvet as co-host and bringing in a new orchestra. Dancing is expected to return next season, with a replacement for Green to be announced.