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Simon Andreae lands Darnell’s Fox role, Sony project in doubt

Simon-AndreaeFox Broadcasting has handed Simon Andreae the coveted role at the top of its alternative programming unit following the departure of long time incumbent Mike Darnell.

The move brings to an end Fox’s long search for a replacement for Darnell, who left earlier this year after nearly two decades with the 21st Century Fox-owned broadcaster.

It also appears to have ended Andreae’s new Sony Pictures Television-backed UK production outfit Scarlet Media, which was first unveiled in August. SPT declined to comment, while Fox’s announcement made no mention of Scarlet.

In his new role, former Discovery executive Andreae (above) will be executive VP, alternative programming. He’ll be based in LA and report to Fox’s president of entertainment Kevin Reilly.

While in the role, Darnell launched shows such as American Idol and X Factor and Andreae will be tasked with developing and overseeing a new slate of unscripted series and specials.

Fox said UK-born Andreae would look to leverage his relationships in Britain and Europe to expand the network’s international presence.

Andreae joins Fox having most recently been senior VP, development and production, West Coast for Discovery Channel, where he was responsible for series such as Naked and Afraid and Fast ‘N’ Loud. Prior to that, the was president of US indie The Incubator, which has produced series for US cable channels and Channel 4 in the UK.

His relationship with Channel 4 stretches back even further, having previously served as the broadcaster’s head of science and education, where he was behind controversial special The Autopsy. His first major TV production role was as a founding partner of UK prodco Optomen Television, which is now part of the All3Media stable.

“This was a highly sought-after role in town, and given Fox’s legacy in ground-breaking unscripted entertainment, we were looking for a particular calibre of executive – and we found the perfect fit in Simon,” said Reilly.

“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.”

“I’m very grateful to Kevin and his team for giving me this opportunity. 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,” Andreae added.

Former incumbent Darnell resurfaced at Warner Bros. as its head of alternative and unscripted programming in July.