As the president of alternative programming at Fox, Mike Darnell developed a well-earned reputation as a showman with a wicked mind. "I usually like to take a pitch and twist it into something more evil or more dangerous," says Darnell, who was once called "Fox's Point Man For Perversity" by the New York Times.
Darnell, the man behind some of the most notorious reality series and specials on television over the past two decades, left Fox at the end of July. He's now moving on to Warner Bros. Television Group as president of unscripted and alternative TV.
It's the end of an era for Fox, which meets reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday without Darnell for the first time in decades. Network execs are still mulling Darnell's replacement. (Among names that have been rumored for the job: National Geographic Channels CEO David Lyle and president Howard T. Owens; Sharon Levy, Spike TV's executive vice president of original series; and Nigel Lythgoe Productions president Kary McHoul; among others).
American Idol was easily the biggest hit on Darnell's watch, but we all know the ins and outs of that show. Now that he's exiting Fox, we asked Darnell to recount the rest of his greatest reality hits — and misses.
Question: Where is The Moment of Truth program? It seems it goes on the air for one or two weeks, then disappears. It is going to come back? Also, is anything going on with The View and Elisabeth Hasselbeck? When are they going to get rid of her? If not, this program is doomed to go off the air. What do you think?
Answer: Like most critics, I¹d do cartwheels if the repulsive Moment of Truth never came back, but the reason it comes and goes without much warning is that Fox sees it as a utility player: something that can plug holes and attract an audience whenever or wherever the situation allows. Truth was scheduled to return on a regular basis in the fall on Thursdays, but was pulled late in the game to make room for the more slapsticky Wipeout knockoff Hole in the Wall, which tonally will make a better fit with the raucous Kitchen Nightmares. So for now Moment of Truth is on hold until midseason, but it will definitely be back, although the bloom is somewhat off the rose, since the
Fox's Moment of Truth will take a moment and sit out the fall, instead ceding its Thursdays-at-8 time slot to the new show Hole in the Wall.Based on a high-rated Japanese game show turned global phenomenon, Hole in the Wall has contestants facing barriers speeding toward them with cut-out shapes. Each team of players must contort their bodies individually or in unison to fit through or be dunked into a pool below. It's best described as "human Tetris"; watch YouTube video here.Brooke Burns and Mark Thompson host the U.S. edition, premiering Sept. 11. Moment of Truth will return midseason. Matt MitovichRelated: Fox Likes Hole in the Wall Game ABC's Wipeout Clears Season-Renewal Obstacle
Matt and Mickey here at the TCA press tour. Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly has taken the stage to field questions. First discussing Fringe, Reilly says that Fox was hot to work with J.J. Abrams, and thus offered him a series "on Day 1." Pegging Fringe as "X-Files meets Indiana Jones," Reilly says, "Sometimes with these big show runners, it's all hype and no delivery.... This one is going to bring the goods." Reilly reiterates that which has been said before and by others: "24 is going to come back rocking and rolling" after suffering hard from a full season's postponement. "It was a good opportunity for [exec producer] Howard [Gordon], who is such a perfectionist," he explains. "He was really wanting this next season to be great, and it was unfortunate that he got interrupted [by the WGA strike]." Reilly adds that the "prequel" movie airing Nov. 23 "is a cool piece of business." Explaining the decision to get in bed with Ozzy Osbourne and family, Reilly ...
Want to see a critic cringe in fear? Force me to watch Dina Lohan’s narcissistic celebreality atrocity, or another hour of Mark L. Walberg presiding ghoulishly over the Moment of Truth’s hot seat. By comparison, ravenous vampires, sadistic ghosts and spectral serial killers are almost welcome and charming company.
Not that charm has anything to do with the grisly stories told on Fear Itself, a horror anthology that should represent a welcome break from network TV’s summer reality obsession. Too bad watching the show is so oppressively unpleasant. I wasn’t so much scared by the three episodes I’ve seen as ultimately repulsed.
Suspense should be nerve-tingling fun, not necessarily punishing, and most of what I’ve seen so far has been about as enjoyable as taking a sledgehammer to the temple. And just about as cheesily predictable.
On the plus side, the show looks great, even when gross, and watching familiar TV faces get