mike darnell fox Reality TV pioneer Mike Darnell leaves FOX: 'It has truly been an amazing ride'In one month, FOX is losing their reality TV trailblazer. President of Alternative Programming Mike Darnell, who has been with the company for 18 years overseeing such series as “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” is packing his bags. FOX made the announcement on Friday afternoon, joking that Darnell was “voting himself out” of the network.

Darnell released the following statement: “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. “With my current deal ending in June, and having been here for 18 years (kind of a record in Hollywood), I had to make a decision: either stay (and basically admit to myself I was going to retire at FOX…not a terrible choice) or leave and try something new. I’ve been in ‘Reality’ since before it was even called that, and it has truly been an amazing ride. However, the world has changed drastically over the last few years and now with hundreds of channels and limitless ways to watch television, I’ve decided this was the perfect time to take advantage of the rapidly changing marketplace. To say I am going to miss everyone here and that the people at FOX are like a family to me would be the understatement of the decade. I have so many people to thank (and I will call all of you!), but first and foremost, I want to thank Kevin Reilly, Peter Rice, Chase Carey and Rupert Murdoch for all their amazing support over these many years.”

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, added, “Mike took risks at a critical time and was a pioneering force in shaping the reality programming genre that exists today. He’s a smart and fearless executive who will be missed.”

Some claimed that Darnell’s reality television shows like “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fianc�” and “Temptation Island” were the downfall of good TV, but there’s no denying the influence he has had on the television landscape with “Idol,” Gordon Ramsay’s many series, and heck, even Paris Hilton’s “The Simple Life.”

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