Darnell to join Warner Bros. TV

Mike Darnell is to join Warner Bros. Television as president of unscripted and alternative programming, having called time on an 18 year career with Fox in May.
July 18, 2013

(Updated: 3.10 p.m. EST) Mike Darnell is to join Warner Bros. Television as president of unscripted and alternative programming, having called time on an 18 year career with Fox in May.

In the 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 him.

He 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, which is majority owned by Warner Bros. International Television Production. Darnell reports to Warner Bros. Television Group president and chief content officer Peter Roth.

In a statement, 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.”

The news comes after Darnell declined a new long-term contract to continue serving as Fox Broadcasting Company’s president of alternative entertainment. In a statement issued in May, he said that the time was right to “leave and try something new.”

In a statement issued today, 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.”

Warner Horizon Television exec VP Craig Erwich will now report to Darnell on unscripted programming, while continuing to report directly to Roth on scripted matters for the seven-year-old company, which has a current slate of 16 series (nine unscripted, seven scripted). Concurrent with Darnell’s appointment, Telepictures president Hilary Estey McLoughlin will transition into a producing role at the Studio.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.