via press release:
THE REALITY RAINMAKER RETURNS
WARNER BROS. TELEVISION GROUP NAMES MIKE DARNELL
TO NEWLY CREATED POSITION OF
PRESIDENT, WARNER BROS. UNSCRIPTED AND ALTERNATIVE TELEVISION
TV Showman to Oversee First-Run Syndicated Programming in Addition
To the Studio’s Unscripted Primetime Programming for the
Broadcast and Cable Network Marketplace
BURBANK, Calif. (July 18, 2013) — Warner Bros. Television Group has tapped reality TV rainmaker Mike Darnell to join the Studio and serve as President, Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television. In this newly created position, Darnell will have oversight of first-run syndicated series produced by Telepictures Productions as well as unscripted primetime TV programming produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, as part of a strategic restructuring that aligns the Studio’s reality-based content creation under his supervision, with both Telepictures and Warner Horizon Unscripted Television reporting to Darnell. Darnell will also serve as the Studio’s creative point person in its relationship with Shed Media U.S., the American unscripted production entity of Shed Media Group (majority owned by Warner Bros. International Television Production). The announcement was made today by Warner Bros. Television Group President and Chief Content Officer Peter Roth, to whom Darnell will report. Darnell will begin his new role on August 12, 2013.
In joining Warner Bros., the highly regarded TV showman takes the reins of Telepictures Productions, one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of first-run programming for the syndicated marketplace — with nine series on the air for summer 2013 and the 2013–14 season, including the Emmy®-winning The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the upcoming Bethenny and the long-running entertainment news program Extra — as well as an innovator in the digital space with TMZ.com, which spawned the game-changing TMZ television program, and more. He will also have oversight of all reality-based programming produced by the highly successful Warner Horizon Unscripted Television for the broadcast network and cable marketplace. Warner Horizon Unscripted Television’s nine current unscripted series include the #1 reality series on network television — The Voice, for NBC — as well as the long-running The Bachelor/The Bachelorette franchise for ABC and the upcoming competition series Capture for The CW, among many others.
Peter Roth said: “No single person has had a more profound impact on the unscripted and alternative genre than Mike Darnell. 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.”
Mike Darnell said: “When I decided to leave FOX two months ago, my hope was to be able to stretch my fingers beyond network television and into other distribution platforms. My first thought was to go into production for myself. But then my good friend Peter Roth made me an offer I couldn’t refuse — the opportunity to develop new shows and run the vast array of alternative shows that Warner Bros. already has going, which include not only some of the most successful on network television, but also an incredible presence on cable and in first-run syndication. (Peter also said it would be OK to bring my piano and shag carpet). To say I am incredibly excited about this chance to take my career in new directions (and the chance to work with Peter again) would be an understatement. I can’t wait to get started.”
Warner Horizon Television Executive Vice President Craig Erwich will now report to Darnell on unscripted programming, while continuing to report directly to Roth on scripted matters for the top-performing seven-year-old company, which has a current slate of 16 series (nine unscripted, seven scripted). Formed in 2006, the division quickly became one of the industry’s leading producers of primetime reality series for network and cable, as well as scripted programming for cable. In addition to the aforementioned The Voice, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Capture, Warner Horizon Unscripted Television’s series include Deon Cole’s Black Box and Who Gets the Last Laugh? for TBS, Marshal Law: Texas for TNT, and Famous in 12 and Oh Sit! for The CW. On the scripted side, Warner Horizon Scripted Television’s drama series are Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family’s #1 series and the #1 scripted drama in the history of ad-supported cable television among Teens 12–17 and Females 9–14 & 12–17); the upcoming PLL spinoff Ravenswood; Longmire (the most-watched original scripted series in the history of the A&E Network); Rizzoli & Isles (the #2 scripted series in the history of ad-supported cable TV among Total Viewers, for TNT); and Dallas (returning for a third season on TNT in 2014). Warner Horizon Scripted Television’s comedy series are Sullivan & Sun (currently in its second season on TBS) and the upcoming Ground Floor, from executive producer Bill Lawrence (debuting in 2014 on TBS).
Concurrent with Darnell’s appointment, Telepictures President Hilary Estey McLoughlin will transition into a producing role at the Studio. In addition to Ellen, TMZ, Bethenny and Extra, current Telepictures programs include long-running court shows Judge Mathis and The People’s Court, TMZ brand extension TMZ Live, quiz show Let’s Ask America, and The Real, which just began a four-week summer test in select markets via the FOX Television Stations.
Darnell’s appointment reunites him with Roth, who joined Twentieth Network Television (now Twentieth Century Fox Television) a year before Darnell joined corporate sibling FOX Broadcasting Company. The two worked closely together when Roth served as President, FOX Entertainment, from 1996–1999. In this role, Darnell will also be reunited with longtime friend and collaborator Mike Fleiss, creator of The Bachelor franchise for the Studio who previously produced Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? and worked on Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed, among other projects, for Darnell at FOX.
Prior to joining Warner Bros., Darnell had served as President of Alternative Entertainment, FOX Broadcasting Company, from August 2007–May 2013. In that capacity, he was responsible for the development and oversight of the network’s alternative and unscripted series, as well as original movies and specials. Most recently, some of Darnell’s most successful projects include long-running hit series American Idol, as well as Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, So You Think You Can Dance and MasterChef. Past projects include Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Don’t Forget the Lyrics!, Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire, The Simple Life, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé, Family Guy and Futurama.
Darnell joined the FOX network in August 1994 as Director of Specials. Before that, he had served for three years as an executive producer of specials for the Fox Television Station Group, after beginning his career in the news department of the network’s owned-and-operated Los Angeles affiliate, KTTV-TV.