Jason Blum, Mike Darnell Sell Haunted House Project to ABC (Exclusive)
The unscripted pilot order marks the first big network sale for the former Fox chief and builds on Blum's business in the increasingly popular horror business.
The king of reality is back.
Mike Darnell has sold his first big network project since settling into his new role at Warner Bros. TV this summer. Though the studio and the network, ABC, are keeping mum on details surrounding the pilot order, the unscripted entry will deal with haunted houses. Fittingly, Warner Horizon is in business with horror master Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions on the untitled project, with Blum attached as the potential series' executive producer.
The news comes a few months after Darnell was tapped as president of unscripted and alternative programming for Warner Bros. TV Group, a newly formed role that has him focused on both broadcast and cable. In an interview this summer, Darnell suggested that he was particularly excited about being able to dabble in the latter, as it still is, in many ways, the "Wild Wild West" from a creative standpoint. In fact, he said the opportunities in cable are reminiscent of his early days at Fox, where he spent 18 years as the network's reality chief, with edgy efforts ranging from Temptation Island to My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance.
As it happens, this project also marks one of the early moves for Lisa Berger, who is only weeks into her new job in the network business as ABC's unscripted chief. She previously spent several years in cable at E!, where the Kardashian franchise was among her most high-profile credits. Berger has hit the ground running, having already scooped up another loud project earlier this week in Rising Star, a red-hot singing competition format from Keshet DCP.
For Blum, the haunted house effort marks a reunion with ABC, where Blumhouse produced the found-footage horror series The River with Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli in early 2012. Though that project ultimately was short-lived, the company has continued to beef up its horror portfolio, with franchises that include The Purge and Insidious.