Fox's Top Reality Exec Mike Darnell to Depart Amid Major American Idol Overhaul
It looks like American Idol‘s summer makeover is only the first step in a larger shakeup of Fox‘s reality-programming lineup. Longtime reality chief Mike Darnell is stepping down after 18 years on the job, the network announced today.
“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, in a release. “With my current deal ending in June, and having been here for 18 years (kind of a record in Hollywood), I »
- Michael Slezak
NBC to Air Blake Shelton's Tornado Relief Concert Next Week
NBC will air Blake Shelton's benefit concert for Oklahoma tornado relief next week, the network announced. "The Voice" coach will headline the telethon "Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert" on May 29, to take place at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Shelton's wife, Miranda Lambert, will perform, as will Reba McEntire and Vince Gill. More guests will be announced shortly. The concert will be televised live at 9 p.m. Et/Pt Wednesday on NBC. It will also air on cable networks Style, G4, Bravo, E! and Cmt. "Everyone has their way to »
- Tim Molloy
Jennifer Hudson Signs On as American Idol Judge! (Plus, Find Out Who Else Is Close to Coming Aboard)
American Idol has nailed down its first alum turned judge: Jennifer Hudson. Multiple sources confirm exclusively to E! News that the Oscar-winning singer has signed a deal to sit at the judges' table this fall for season 13. The other two spots are also intended for former Idol contestants: Kelly Clarkson and either Adam Lambert or Clay Aiken. We're told that Clarkson is also close to signing on. No word yet on whether Lambert or Aiken will fill the final spot, but producers are expected to keep the panel to three members. The "superstar-alum" theme is aimed at reclaiming some of Idol's lost viewership—the series is down about 10 million viewers from two years ago, »
Thursday Broadcast Premieres Underwhelm in the Ratings
The first night following the conclusion of the television season saw the Big Four roll out some new summer programs, though none made much of a mark. ABC did Ok with “Motive” (pictured), and Fox with “Does Someone Have to Go,” but it was a soft start for NBC comedy “Save Me.”
Fox won Thursday among young adults while CBS prevailed in other categories despite an all-repeat lineup.
According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, won the night’s opening hour in 18-49 with “Hell’s Kitchen” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall), finishing a bit behind a repeat of CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” at 8 and then pulling ahead of the Eye’s “Two and a Half Men” at 8:30. The time-period debut of “Kitchen” rose 17% above its season premiere on Monday of last week (1.8) opposite season finales, and was Thursday’s No. 1 series in several categories, including men 18-49 (2.0/7) and »
- Rick Kissell
Jimmy Fallon's 'Game of Thrones' Update: Watch 'Game of Desks'
I am not a Game of Thrones fan. For two seasons, I really tried, but gave up when some unbearably awful line of dialogue sent me running. In season 1, the line was "I am a Khaleesi of the Dothraki." As one irate comment pointed out at the time, that's the equivalent of "I am the Queen of England," which was pretty much my point - that's a terrible line. My Got aversion comes with some exceptions, though: Peter Dinklage, just because he's fantastic as the wily Tyrion, and now Jimmy Fallon, whose parody Game of Desks premiered last night. Guess who announces herself as the Khaleesi? The conceit is that Studio 6B is a lot like the world of Game of Thrones (less of a stretch than saying it's like Downton Abbey, in the hilarious Late Night Downton Sixby spoofs). Take a look at the cutthroat world of power as »
- Caryn James
'Fast & Furious 6': That ending! That Ending! (Spoilers)
So you’ve just finished watching Fast & Furious 6. You’ve seen planes and tanks and flipcars and Paul Walker’s alternate-universe girl-clone and one of the greatest headbutts in the history of human heads. You think it’s all over. The credits roll…and then they stop rolling. Warning: Spoilers Ahead. You see a Mercedes driving through the streets of Tokyo. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you immediately recognize the significance of the Tokyo setting — and you can guess that we’re watching a sequence set during The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. If you’re »
- Darren Franich
SAG-aftra Sued For Witholding Foreign Residuals And Rewarding Current Officials
Actors Ed Asner, Clancy Brown, Dennis Hayden, and George Coe are among the 15 plaintiffs who filed suit today in federal court against SAG-aftra for not properly disbursing $110 million in foreign residuals they say have not been paid out. Asner is the former SAG president (1981-1985) who very publicly opposed the SAG-aftra merger along with other ex-union board members. The 52-page filing also claims that the merged union has deliberately withheld information and kept the money in trust and spent portions on first class travel and lavish parties and big salaries for current union officials. “Plaintiffs have reason to believe that SAG-aftra has now amassed a substantial slush fund that does not belong to the labor organization but instead belongs to members and non-members, and/or their estates, on covered and uncovered works,” says Friday’s filing. Requesting a jury trial, the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages as well as injunctive »
- DOMINIC PATTEN
NYC Comptroller Calls For Cablevision’s “Zombie Directors” To Resign
Update, 7:51 Pm: Cablevision returned fire at Comptroller John Liu for challenging the directors who failed to win a majority of the votes. The company says that they “have helped to create great value for Cablevision shareholders. We look forward to their continuing contributions. Our shareholders know that Cablevision is a controlled company and they understand the rules by which our directors are elected. Once again, Mr. Liu is off base attacking another major New York employer. Mr. Liu is no position to lecture anyone about ethics.” Previous, 6:35 Pm: The term “zombie director” refers to a board member who’s elected without the support of a majority of the shareholder votes — and their existance infuriates corporate governance watchdogs. But Cablevision reports today that two of the five candidates for the board seats to represent public investors failed to meet that threshold at yesterday’s annual meeting. Since the company »
- DAVID LIEBERMAN, Executive Editor
'Fresh Prince' reunion: Will Smith does theme song rap with Alfonso Ribeiro and DJ Jazzy Jeff
Will Smith, promoting his new movie "After Earth" with son Jaden Smith, surprised fans with a "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" reunion this week while on "The Graham Norton" show. While the father-son duo originally denied working on music together, it was clear they'd rehearsed when Jaden busted a rhyme to a beat set by his dad.
But the real treat came when Smith introduced DJ Jazzy Jeff, his old friend from his "Fresh Prince" days. The audience was psyched to hear the opening beats of the all-too familiar theme song, which Smith happily dueted on with Jaden.
And then it got better. Alfonso Ribiero popped in to do the infamous Carlton dance.
Mike Darnell’s Greatest Hits: ‘Joe Millionaire,’ ‘Alien Autopsy’ and Seth MacFarlane
Mike Darnell isn’t just the best-known alternative programming exec at any of the major networks. He’s the only guy who has held the post in the 27-year history of the Fox network, which he joined in 1994 after spending eight years on the news side of Fox’s Los Angeles O&O, Kttv.
“No one else has ever done this job here,” he says. That made his decision to leave all the more difficult, but he has decided to move on next month when his contract expires.
“It’s in my nature to be comfortable,” he says. “This place is my family, my home. So when it came time to do a new contract, I really thought that either I’m going to keep going and retire here, or I’ve got to try something new. I’m not getting any younger, you know.”
The Big Three networks have »
- Cynthia Littleton
'Real Housewives of New York': LuAnn de Lesseps may not return due to salary conflict
Production on Season 6 of Bravo's "Real Housewives of New York" is underway, but LuAnn de Lesseps may not be involved. According to a report from THR, de Lesseps is the lone holdout from the cast in ongoing salary negotiations.
Word is that de Lesseps originally rejected Bravo's first offer, and now that production has already begun, the deal on the table is for a smaller role in the season than was originally offered to her. Cast member Aviva Drescher also held out for more money toward the end of salary negotiations, but she ultimately came to a deal with Bravo and has joined the cast.
Mike Darnell: For TV Critics, the Gift That Kept on Giving
Years ago, somewhere between “When Animals Attack” and “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?,” I suggested that some struggling network, like Upn back when it existed, should hand its programming schedule over to Darnell, with this disclaimer: “Try not to get anyone killed.” Given a free rein beyond that, my guess was he could substantially improve their audience, in the same way Faye Dunaway’s character did in the movie “Network” (which appears especially prescient in terms of certain Darnell-developed titles.)
In truth, nobody is meant to hang around in one of these jobs for close to two decades, and even with the enviable freedom he was granted by Fox, Darnell’s “golden gut” (to use a description once used in »
- Brian Lowry
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