Fox has tapped a new head of alternative programming.
Veteran producer Rob Wade has been named president, alternative entertainment and specials, the Fox Broadcasting announced Monday. Corie Henson, who had led alternative, will continue with the network as executive vice president, reporting to Wade.
Wade most recently served as executive producer and showrunner for ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” He previously was head of entertainment development at BBC Worldwide.
“Unscripted programming is one of the true hallmarks of broadcast television. No other platform captures the immediacy and excitement of a big, broad, breakout unscripted hit like broadcast, and we are committed to expanding our efforts in this area beginning today, with Rob,” said Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Gary Newman and Dana Walden, to whom Wade will report. “Rob’s an incredibly well-respected executive and producer with a proven track record working on reality hits. He’s also a creator himself, which makes him the perfect person to lead this charge. We’re confident Rob has the creative vision to shape this area in the same way we’ve shaped the scripted side at the studio through our partnerships with some of the best talent in the business.”
Wade also was as an executive producer on Fox’s “The X Factor” and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” and previously served as head of TV at SyCo Entertainment North America. Other series he has worked on include “Grease: You’re the One that I Want,” “Big Brother,” “Dog Eat Dog,” and “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.”
“Fox has always been a pioneer in unscripted television, delivering its boldest and most innovative hits,” said Wade. “I am thrilled to be given the chance to work with the best talent in the business and hope I can add to that legacy.”
Fox has not had an executive head of alternative at the president level since Mike Darnell, who spent 15 years at Fox and developed and nurtured “American Idol.” Darnell departed Fox in 2013. His replacement, Simon Andreae — a veteran Discovery Communications executive recruited by former Fox chief Kevin Reilly — who bet big on “Utopia,” an ambitious and costly unscripted series. Fox devoted a significant chunk of its 2014 fall schedule to “Utopia,” airing it twice a week on broadcast and platforming a 24-7 online component. But the show drew moribund ratings and was canceled after two months.
Henson, a former exec at ABC and Electus, replaced Andreae in 2015, and has spearheaded a slate of more cost-effective unscripted efforts, including a number of game shows and cooking-competition series. Last month, Fox greenlit a revival of “Love Connection” with Andy Cohen set to host, “The Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss serving as executive producer, and Warner Bros. — where Darnell is now unscripted president — producing.