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Fox Names Michael Thorn Entertainment President; David Madden in Talks at AMC

Fox Names Michael Thorn Entertainment President;
Courtesy of Michael Thorn/REX/Shutterstock

David Madden is departing his role as entertainment president of Fox Broadcasting. Michael Thorn, a veteran of the network’s sibling studio 20th Century Fox Television, has been tapped to succeed him as head of scripted programming and development at the broadcast network.

Sources tell Variety that Madden is in negotiations for a job overseeing programming at AMC and Sundance TV.

Thorn most recently served as exec VP of development at 20th TV. He was promoted to oversee drama and comedy for the studio under creative-affairs president Jonnie Davis in a 2014 realignment after longtime 20th TV heads Dana Walden and Gary Newman added Fox Broadcasting to their purview. Thorn joined the studio in 2010 as senior VP of drama development.

At 20th TV, Thorn developed “This Is Us,” the breakout NBC drama that was the highest rated freshman series in Nielsen’s advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo last season and earned multiple Emmy nominations. No replacement for Thorn at 20th TV has yet been named. In his new role as Fox Broadcasting entertainment president, he will report to Walden and Newman, co-CEOs of Fox Television Group.

“We’ve worked with Michael for the past decade, and in terms of creative chops and leadership skills, he’s one of the best,” said Newman and Walden. “He’s distinguished himself in our organization and in the creative community as an incredible executive who cares deeply about the work and our creative partners. As someone who’s worked at the studio, a broadcast network and spent time as a producer, Michael’s had the best possible training for this position. We’re elated he’ll be stepping into this expanded role.”

Madden’s departures brings to a close a three-year tenure as the network’s top programming executive. The former president of 20th TV’s Fox TV Studios unit, Madden was installed by Walden and Newman in a key role at the network as they sought to lift it out of fourth place in the broadcast ratings race. Fox finished second to NBC last season in the 18-49 demo, but outperformed CBS and ABC largely on the strength of sports offerings such as the Super Bowl and the World Series. Madden developed solid performers such as drama “Lethal Weapon” and comedy “The Mick,” but did not bring Fox a hit on the scale of the network’s most-watched series “Empire.”

A move to AMC and Sundance TV would follow the exit in May of Joel Stillerman, who left the cable channels to take over as content chief at Hulu. At Fox TV Studios, Madden was credited with driving a successful business developing original series cable.

“This brings to a close an incredible 17-year run working with our friend and colleague, David,” said Newman and Walden. “He’s a gifted executive who brings passion, intelligence and a tremendous amount of experience to all he does. We know he’ll be successful in the next stage of his career and we wish him all the best.”

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.