Speaker Mike Darnell
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President, Unscripted and Alternative Television
One of the most highly regarded and influential figures in the history of reality TV programming, Mike Darnell serves as President of Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television. He joined the Studio in August 2013 and reports to Peter Roth, President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group.
In this role, Darnell has supervision over all of the Studio’s unscripted TV content creation, with oversight of three Warner Bros. companies: Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, Telepictures Productions, and Shed Media. All three companies report to Darnell in expanding their development slate and overseeing current programming, which currently includes 35 series across 20 different networks in broadcast, cable, and syndication.
Darnell’s Unscripted & Alternative division is responsible for some of the top reality shows on broadcast television, including Little Big Shotson NBC, starring Steve Harvey. This comedy/variety show was the highest-rated new series of the 2015–16 season and the biggest new unscripted series, on any network, in the previous six seasons. Following the U.S. launch, Warner Bros. has since sold Little Big Shots to nearly 20 countries around the world. In addition, NBC ordered a spinoff series, Little Big Shots: Forever Young ,in which Steve Harvey will showcase the young-at-heart.
Other network series under Mike Darnell’s group include the #1 unscripted series in primetime, The Voice, and the longest-running relationship franchise with The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise, all from Warner Horizon. Darnell and his three development teams have an unprecedented slate of new primetime series, including a revival of Love Connection for FOX, hosted by Andy Cohen, and three series for NBC: Ellen’s Game of Games, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres; First Dates, narrated by Drew Barrymore; and Genius Junior, hosted by Neal Patrick Harris.
Darnell’s division is also responsible for more than 300 hours of programming in cable, which includes the Emmy-winning, Shed Media–produced series Who Do You Think You Are? for TLC, as well as Long Lost Family for TLC, Basketball Wives for VH1, the Happily Ever After? series for Freeform, and The Real Housewives of New York City for Bravo, among others.
And in first-run syndication, Darnell’s Telepictures division produces the Emmy-winning The Ellen DeGeneres Show, TMZandTMZ Live, as well as Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen, Extra, Judge Mathis, The People’s Court and The Real. In addition, Telepictures Digital is responsible for a variety of sites and apps, including ellentube.com, TMZ.com and Heads Up!, the #1 paid app for the last three years.
Prior to joining Warner Bros., Mike Darnell served as President of Alternative Entertainment at FOX Broadcasting Company. During his 19 years at the network, Darnell was responsible for hundreds of series and specials, including the mega-hits American Idol and Family Guy, as well as Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, So You Think You Can Dance, Kitchen Nightmares, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Don’t Forget the Lyrics!, Temptation Island, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé, The Simple Life, Futurama and Joe Millionaire.
As a former child actor, 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 television career in the news department of the network’s owned-and-operated Los Angeles affiliate, KTTV-TV. Darnell was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the Los Angeles area. He resides in Calabasas with his wife, Carolyn, and daughter, Chelsea.
Speaking on: Keynote Conversation: Mike Darnell, Warner Bros.