Reality TV guru Mike Darnell joins Warner Bros. TV

NEW YORK (AP) — Reality TV guru Mike Darnell, who just weeks ago concluded a colorful and groundbreaking 18-year stay at the Fox network, has landed at Warner Bros. Television Group, where he’ll serve as president of its unscripted and alternative programming.

Darnell will have oversight of first-run syndicated series produced by Telepictures Productions and unscripted prime-time TV programming produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, the company said Thursday. This includes syndicated series such as “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Extra” and broadcast network shows including “The Voice” on NBC and “The Bachelor/The Bachelorette” franchise on ABC.

Darnell, 51, is considered by admirers and critics as having played an unrivalled role in the explosion of reality TV across the schedule.

“No single person has had a more profound impact on the unscripted and alternative genre than Mike Darnell,” Warner Bros. Television Group head Peter Roth said.

Darnell’s hiring follows his unexpected departure from Fox, where he and the network prospered for nearly two decades.

There he oversaw programs ranging from such hits as “American Idol,” ”Hell’s Kitchen” and “So You Think You Can Dance” to such lesser-regarded fare as “World’s Scariest Police Shootouts” and “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire,” perhaps Darnell’s low point at the network, which raised questions about the true financial status of the show’s bachelor and his background, including allegations that he had struck an ex-girlfriend.

On Thursday, Darnell said that his decision last May to exit Fox at the end of his contract was spurred by a hope “to stretch my fingers beyond network television and into other distribution platforms.”

“My first thought was to go into production for myself,” he said.

But Warner, he said, “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.”

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