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Andreae named Fox reality head

US broadcast network Fox has appointed British producer and executive Simon Andreae as its new head of reality programming, ending the long search to replace alternative pioneer Mike Darnell.

Simon Andreae

Andreae, previously Discovery Channel’s West coast senior vice president of development and production, becomes executive vice president of alternative entertainment at Fox, reporting to chairman of entertainment Kevin Reilly.

Based in Los Angeles, Andreae will oversee the network’s slate of unscripted programming and specials and, said a statement, “lead an aggressive development effort to expand Fox’s pipeline of unscripted fare.”

He will also “look to leverage his British and European relationships to expand the network’s international presence.”

Commenting on the appointment, Reilly said Andreae was “the perfect fit” for “a highly sought-after role in town…. Not only is Simon known for innovative thinking, he’s a dynamic leader who has been a producer and a network executive on both sides of the pond, and he has the energy and drive to open a new chapter in Fox unscripted.”

Andreae added: “My intention is to help build on Fox’s rich heritage of risk and innovation and to help support and extend its range of category-defining shows and world-leading talent.”

Fox veteran Darnell left the network in May and subsequently joined Warner Bros Television Group as president of unscripted and alternative television. He was one of three network reality chiefs to depart their jobs this year amid a ratings slump for broadcast network reality programming. Darnell’s tenure saw Fox enjoying huge success with American Idol and The X Factor, but both shows have recently suffered ratings slides.

Coming from the currently more vibrant cable reality business, Andreae oversaw the development of shows such as Naked and Afraid and Fast N’ Loud while at Discovery.

In August he left Discovery and set up Scarlet Media, a new UK independent production company with backing from Sony Pictures Television (SPT). Though SPT had no comment, Scarlet’s future now appears to be in doubt.

Andreae began his career as a founding partner of UK indie Optomen Television. He was head of science and education at Channel 4 in the UK and then CEO of US company The Incubator.


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