There is a big executive change at Fox Broadcast Company just as the buying season is kicking into high gear. David Madden is stepping down as entertainment president. I hear he is in negotiations for the top programming job at AMC. At Fox, Madden will be succeeded by 20th Century Fox EVP Development Michael Thorn, who will report to Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Gary Newman and Dana Walden.
There had been a lot of speculation about possible changes at Fox, which has launched respectable new scripted performers over the past couple of seasons in Lethal Weapon, Lucifer and The Mick but has been seeking a major breakout. Madden, who has been at the Fox network for three years, is a big get for AMC, where he will succeed Joel Stillerman who left in May for a top job at Hulu. At AMC, Madden is expected to oversee programming for AMC, SundanceTV as well as AMC Studios, bringing in his 15-year experience building up Fox TV Studios into a major cable series supplier.
Meanwhile, Thorn had been a rising star at the Fox TV Group having developed such big hits for the studio as Empire and This Is Us, and had long been tipped for a bigger role at the company. He joined 20th TV as head of drama in 2010 and was promoted to EVP Development in 2014, overseeing both comedy and drama.
As President of Entertainment for Fox — a position he will transition into at the end of next month — he will oversee scripted programming, development and casting at the network. A replacement for him at the studio will be named soon.
“We’ve worked with Michael for the past decade, and in terms of creative chops and leadership skills, he’s one of the best,” said Newman and Walden. “He’s distinguished himself in our organization and in the creative community as an incredible executive who cares deeply about the work and our creative partners. As someone who’s worked at the studio, a broadcast network and spent time as a producer, Michael’s had the best possible training for this position. We’re elated he’ll be stepping into this expanded role.”
Walden and Newman also addressed Madden’s pending departure this week.
“This brings to a close an incredible 17-year run working with our friend and colleague, David,” they said. “He’s a gifted executive who brings passion, intelligence and a tremendous amount of experience to all he does. We know he’ll be successful in the next stage of his career and we wish him all the best,” added Walden and Newman.
While the timing of the entertainment president change at Fox is unusual as it comes while buying for the current development cycle is in full swing, most of the network’s projects come from its sister studio, so the bulk of what already has been bought had been shepherded by Thorn on the studio side.
As EVP Development at 20th TV, Thorn most recently worked on last season’s breakout hit, NBC’s This Is Us, which was nominated for 10 Emmy Awards and won the Humanitas Prize for Drama; and Fox’s flagship drama Empire — the two highest-rated drama series on broadcast television. He also developed comedies Speechless and Life In Pieces and worked on the returning The Last Man On Earth, The Mick, Star, Fresh Off the Boat and the upcoming The Gifted, The Orville and Ghosted — all three airing on Fox.
Thorn joined 20th TV as SVP Drama Development after working at Lost Marbles Television, where he oversaw scripted television and served as an executive producer on Teen Wolf, Supreme Courtships and Cop House. Previously, he served as Drama Development Team Head at NBC, helping to develop such series as Heroes and Friday Night Lights; and VP Primetime Series for NBC Studios, where he oversaw drama development and current programming for the studio including series Las Vegas, Crossing Jordan and Boomtown.
Prior to NBC, Thorn served as VP Series Development and Programming at USA Network, where he helped develop the cable network’s first big hit, Monk, as well as Touching Evil, Traffic, Peacemakers and Red Skies.