As reported earlier in the day, there’s some sad news coming out when it comes to Fox: After nearly two decades with the network, the head of alternative programming in Mike Darnell is saying goodbye. He’s a man who was a trailblazer for the entire genre of reality TV, and while there were some series that he green-lit that certainly got people up in arms (see “The Swan” or that second season of “Joe Millionaire”), the man is also responsible for bringing “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” and more recently “The X Factor” to the air.
While there is still work to be done when it comes to the flagship singing competition, we’re likely not going to know the full judging panel for some time despite claims of Jennifer Hudson nearing a deal. Instead, what The Hollywood Reporter chose to ask Darnell in an exit interview of sorts was about why “The X Factor” went with a judging panel of three women (Paulina Rubio, Kelly Rowland, and Demi Lovato) this season alongside Simon Cowell, which has not been done before. His response? That the hire was really all about just that, in stirring the pot and trying something new:
“Simon wanted to do something different and there hadn’t been a panel with three women and a man. The truth is, without him you couldn’t do a panel like that because he’s sort of a center piece. I think the other thing that went into that decision is that all of these panelists have been judges — that becomes important because we’ve seen. Because if you’ve never done it before, we don’t know what we’re getting. You might be great, you might be terrible. It’s a skill. it really is. Everybody thinks they can do it but not everybody can. And Simon Cowell is a master at it.”
In a statement of his own today, Cowell wished Darnell (who attended just about every live “American Idol” taping over the years) well, and also expressed hope to do something with him in the future:
“I have so much to be grateful to Mike Darnell for. He was one of our biggest supporters at Fox right at the beginning when we launched Idol. His knowledge, skill, kindness and importantly the fact that we became friends through this process were all reasons why we were able to make things happen in such a big way. I will miss him. Publicly I want to tell Mike: ‘A big thank you for everything you have done for me and I hope (and expect!) that we will be working together again in the very near future.'”
If you want to hear more of what Simon has to say about the judging panel, just be sure to check out our story over here.