Must-Read Interview: As ‘American Idol’ Prepares to Air Its Final Show, Former Fox Reality Chief Mike Darnell Recalls When He Knew the Show Was Going to Be a Huge Hit, And What Its Lasting Impact Will Be

Apr 7, 2016  •  Post A Comment

In the runup to this week’s series finale of Fox’s “American Idol,” former Fox reality chief Mike Darnell offered his recollections and his perspective on the show to Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva. Among the highlights, Darnell, who now heads unscripted for Warner Bros. TV, was asked about the moment he knew “Idol” would be a hit.

“Moment one, for me, was the first audition, which was at the Hollywood Athletic Club, in Hollywood; it was very small, we had very few people come out, maybe a couple hundred,” Darnell recalled. “That was the first time I had met Simon [Cowell]. I was at that audition with my co-workers and my wife, and this was the first time I experienced a bad audition. And it was so funny, my wife had to run out so she could laugh outside. If I remember correctly, Paula [Abdul] was upset and kind of crying because she did not realize how harsh it was going to be. And it was at that moment I thought, this is unique.”

Asked about the show’s impact, Darnell said: “Well, clearly it had an impact on almost every performance show that came after it. You know, we now look at three judges as just the most common thing on the planet — it was new when we did it. We now look at the interactivity as something that is part and parcel of everything — it was brand new when we did it, we only had phone numbers.” He added: “It is the last, great television show that will probably ever exist at that level, period, in America. I do not believe anything will approach the numbers of ‘Idol.'”

We encourage readers to click on the link to Deadline near the top of this story to read the full interview.

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