The Swan

2004, TV Show

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the swan

Exit Interview: Reality Guru Mike Darnell Recounts His Most Notorious Shows

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.

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Exit Interview: Reality Guru Mike Darnell Recounts His Most Notorious Shows

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.

read more

Q&A: Fox Reality Kingpin Mike Darnell on Why He's Leaving, and What's Next

There's a reason why they call Mike Darnell the "dark prince" of reality TV. Darnell, who on Friday announced his exit as the president of alternative entertainment at Fox, is still best known for his in-your-face fare like Joe Millionaire, Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction, The Swan, When Animals Attack and Man vs. Beast.

Some of those shows, like Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire and Temptation Island, led to juicy TV scandals. (It's why the New York Times once billed him as TV's "point man for perversity.") But Darnell also oversaw the biggest TV phenomenon of the past decade: American Idol, a show that was unbeatable in its prime... read more

Shedding for the Wedding Producer: I Despise Bridalplasty

Shedding for the Wedding helps couples look their best on their big day, but don't confuse it with E!'s competition show Bridalplasty.

"I despise Bridalplasty," said executive producer Dave Broome Friday at the Television Critics Association winter previews. " I would never make a... read more

E! Orders Bridal Plastic Surgery Competition Series

Just when you thought you've seen it all on TV, E! has ordered a new reality show that combines weddings and plastic surgery.

Bridalplasty will feature 12 brides-to-be competing in wedding-themed challenges to win the surgical procedure of her choice, the network announced Thursday.

VIDEO: Advice for brides on a budget from David Tutera

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A Winter of TV Discontent?

Just a thought: If the strike lasts much longer, do you think CBS' Big Brother house has room for all of us? I joke, of course, but I also fear that if things don't get resolved soon, it's going to be a long, cold winter indeed for fans of good old everyday regular non-reality TV.In the last few days, we’ve seen cliff-hanger episodes of Desperate Housewives and Heroes that felt like season finales, and for all we know, that’s what they might be, if production doesn’t resume early in the new year for the back half of their seasons. For the first month of the writers’ strike, viewers didn’t feel much pain (except for fans of late-night comedy, the first casualty) because we were in a sweeps month chock-full of original episodes. Life went on as usual. That’s about to end. There are scattered episodes of many series yet to air in December, and a few leftovers for early 2008. But come the new year, the TV landscape’s going to start looking mighty diffe... read more

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Premiered: March 29, 2004, on FOX
Rating: None
User Rating: (14 ratings)
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Premise: Self-described ugly ducklings undergo extreme makeovers before competing in a beauty contest in this reality series, which supplies them with a life coach and a team of stylists, surgeons and trainers. The show took a critical beating, but scored well enough for a `Swan II' follow-up the following season.

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