Reality Chief, Mike Darnell Leaving FOX in June

Reality Chief, Mike Darnell, is leaving FOX when his contract expires at the end of June. In his statement, Darnell says that although he is grateful that FOX offered him a new long term contract, he’s decided to move on to something new.

However, with the the chaos and failures at American Idol this season, and FOX boss, Kevin Reilly tasked with getting the former “death star” back on track, I wonder if FOX gave Darnell the opportunity to jump gracefully, rather than be pushed out?  Darnell has been with the network for 18 years.

I’ve been waiting all day for executive producer, Nigel Lythoe’s announcement that he’s leaving Idol. It’s the Friday before a long weekend, the perfect time to dump negative news. The day is still young in Los Angeles, however. I’m going to stay tuned.

UPDATE: TV Line interviewed Darnell a couple of days ago.

“There are so many singing shows on right now. There’s just too much of it. Yes, Idol was down this season, but if you look at The Voice, it’s been down five weeks in a row, too. There’s definitely too much of it on,” he reiterated. “And I love X Factor and we love Idol, but yes they probably hurt each other.”

Darnell claims the network would be happy if the X Factor ratings stayed at the Season 2 finale numbers. Via TV Line

Read Darnell’s statement below:


The results are in…Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company, has announced that he will be departing the network at the end of June.

“I’m extremely grateful that FOX has offered me a new long term contract (and anyone who knows me won’t believe I’m saying this), but I’ve decided it’s time for a change,” said Darnell. “With my current deal ending in June, and having been here for 18 years (kind of a record in Hollywood), I had to make a decision: either stay (and basically admit to myself I was going to retire at FOX…not a terrible choice) or leave and try something new.  I’ve been in ‘Reality’ since before it was even called that, and it has truly been an amazing ride.  However, the world has changed drastically over the last few years and now with hundreds of channels and limitless ways to watch television, I’ve decided this was the perfect time to take advantage of the rapidly changing marketplace.  To say I am going to miss everyone here and that the people at FOX are like a family to me would be the understatement of the decade.  I have so many people to thank (and I will call all of you!), but first and foremost, I want to thank Kevin Reilly, Peter Rice, Chase Carey and Rupert Murdoch for all their amazing support over these many years.”

Peter Rice, Chairman of Fox Networks Group, said, “Mike has been a trailblazer for the entire industry and has made innumerable contributions to the growth and success of the network over the past two decades.  His passion for – and dedication to – television knows no bounds.  He is like a member of the family, and FOX won’t be the same without him.  While we wish he would’ve stayed forever, we regretfully accept his decision.”

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, commented, “Mike took risks at a critical time and was a pioneering force in shaping the reality programming genre that exists today.  He’s a smart and fearless executive who will be missed.”

Darnell joined FOX in 1994 as Director of Specials after working for eight years at the network’s Los Angeles affiliate KTTV and the Fox Television Station Group.  He oversaw the creation of genre-defining hits, and tens of thousands of hours of television, including AMERICAN IDOL (television’s No. 1 series for 9 consecutive seasons), FAMILY GUY, THE X FACTOR, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, MASTERCHEF, HELL’S KITCHEN, KITCHEN NIGHTMARES, “Futurama,” “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?,” “Nanny 911,” “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!” and “Guinness World Records Primetime”; along with popular sensations such as, “Joe Millionaire,” “The Simple Life,” “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé,” “The Moment of Truth,” “Trading Spouses” and “Temptation Island”; countless specials like “The Billboard Music Awards,” “The Teen Choice Awards,” “The Primetime Emmy Awards” and “The American Country Awards”; and noise-making spectacles such as “The Swan,” “Alien Autopsy:  Fact or Fiction?,” “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?,” “Man vs. Beast,” “Busted on the Job,” “World’s Scariest Police Chases,” “When Animals Attack!” and “Breaking the Magician’s Code:  Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed.”

About mj santilli 30695 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!