Reality Producers 5x5 Media Exit Electus for Warner Horizon Television (Exclusive)

New Warner reality topper Mike Darnell makes his first overall deal with the company behind "King of the Nerds."
Courtesy of CAA; Getty Images
Craig Armstrong and Rick Ringbakk, with an inset of Mike Darnell

Mike Darnell has hooked his first big fish at Warner Bros. Television.

The newly installed president of unscripted and alternative programming and syndicated fare has made his first overall deal with 5x5 Media, formerly based at Electus. "These are really talented guys," Darnell tells THR, referring to Media co-founders Craig Armstrong and Rick Ringbakk. "There are a lot of executors out there but not a lot of idea guys. We're already going out with pitches next week."

"The opportunity to team up with Mike Darnell, one of the true pioneers of this genre, is something we could never pass up. And Warner Bros., well, that’s one of the companies that made you fall in love with TV and film in the first place," Ringbakk says. 

STORY: Mike Darnell Taking Big Job at Warner Bros. (Exclusive)

5x5 Media creates original unscripted formats. The company has developed six different formats within its first few years in business, including The Hero (TNT), the two-season competition series Fashion Star (NBC) and King of the Nerds (TBS), the latter of which has been renewed for a second season.

Under the multiyear overall deal, the company will develop and produce new unscripted formats for broadcast and cable and relocate from the IAC building on Sunset Boulevard, where Electus is based, to a 13,000-square-foot space in Encino formerly occupied by Activision. New programming produced by 5x5 under the deal will be distributed around the world by Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, with Warner Bros. International Television Production handling format rights sales.

Armstrong's credits include Survivor, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Supernanny. Ringbakk is a veteran of The Amazing Race and Paradise Hotel. The duo have won multiple Emmys and have also produced ABC's Bet on Your Baby, TNT's Wake Up Call and ABC's Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

For Darnell, the deal marks his first major pact since exiting Fox for WBTV. In an interview during the summer, Darnell suggested he was excited about being able to dabble in cable, which is still considered, in many ways, the "Wild Wild West" from a creative standpoint.

In addition to the 5x5 pact, Darnell also sold his first big network project since moving to WBTV with ABC's haunted house project. That entry hails from horror master Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, The River). 

Warner Horizon produces a long roster of both scripted and unscripted fare, including NBC's The Voice, The Bachelor, Oh Sit and others.