WME veteran Mark Itkin, one of the driving forces behind the growth of the unscripted TV business during the past two decades, will retire from the agency at year’s end.
Itkin has spent the past 34 years with WME and its predecessor, William Morris Agency. During his long career, he packaged such shows as “The People’s Court,” “Deal or No Deal,” “Project Runway,” “American Gladiators” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” He was involved in the early wave of foreign format imports to the U.S. including “Big Brother,” “Fear Factor,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Celebrity Family Feud” and “Battlebots.”
Itkin was the matchmaker who set up clients Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray as production partners in the company that became the home of MTV’s “The Real World” franchise. A decade ago, Itkin helped Tyler Perry forge an independent path in production of sitcoms through an innovative partnership with Debmar-Mercury.
“Mark is a true visionary. His passion for television, arts and pop culture has led to some of the most groundbreaking programming of all time. He is the definition of a trailblazer, and we are grateful for his many contributions to our company and the industry,” said WME-IMG co-CEOs Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.
Itkin is well-liked throughout the biz for his savvy about TV dealmaking and his warmth as a person (not to mention an unmistakable laugh). He was feted in 2008 by NATPE with a Brandon Tartikoff Award. He’s been a longtime governor of the Television Academy. At present he chairs the Academy’s Hall of Fame committee.
“I have had an incredible run with the William Morris Agency and now WME over the past 34 years. It’s been a thrill to work with the many talented creators and colleagues over the course of my career, and I feel fortunate to have had a front row seat on the company’s amazing journey,” Itkin said.
Mike Darnell, president of of Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative TV, noted Itkin’s track record and saluted his dedication to his many clients.
“Mark is simply the best in the business,” Darnell said. “He has also accomplished the seemingly impossible — being a pioneer in the unscripted arena, and then managing to go out at the top of his game 34 years later. Personally, I wish he would never leave.”