Mark Burnett was supposed to bring hits to MGM. Instead he’s brought chaos

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With hits like “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” Mark Burnett is a legend of reality TV. But his reign at MGM has been disruptive and devoid of hits. Photo by jdlasica (CC BY 2.0).

MGM Studios has long been seen as an acquisition target in Hollywood, but a new investigation by Kim Masters suggests worldwide television chairman Mark Burnett is making any possible takeover attempts difficult. 

When the famed reality TV hitmaker came to MGM five years ago, the hope was that he’d bring new, successful shows to the studio, but the hits have yet to appear. Instead, he’s made it his business to get in everyone else’s business. 

MGM has been without a CEO since March 2018 after the ouster of Gary Barber, a move which some say Burnett pushed for. Burnett is also believed to be a major factor in the departure of film studio head Jonathan Glickman. In that leadership vacuum, no one has been able to wrangle Burnett, whose aggressive style at work has led to at least one formal HR complaint. 

In addition to his one-time reality prowess, Burnett has also been successful with faith-based programming in the past. MGM has hoped he could succeed in that area too, but again, the hits have failed to materialize. His wife Roma Downey produced and starred in a short form faith-based series that cost the company millions, but has yet to be aired or streamed anywhere.



Kaitlin Parker