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Mike Darnell was in London this week to help Warner Bros International Television Production impress international buyers as part of the UK Screenings. He talked up new shows, including Ellen’s Game of Games, and Warner’s monster franchises, not least The Bachelor, which is poised to go all A Star Is Born with its latest spinoff The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart.
Darnell knows that if he can get a show away in the U.S., it makes the job of his international colleagues that much easier, but it was the contrasting fortunes of The Bachelor and Love Island in America and Britain that got him thinking when Deadline caught up with Warner’s president of unscripted and alternative television.
The Bachelor returned to ViacomCBS’s UK network Channel 5 after a seven-year hiatus in 2019, but it struggled to make an impression. By contrast, Love Island has been extended to two seasons a year on ITV2 and its winter edition is entertaining more than 3M viewers a night — six times The Bachelor‘s audience. Over in the States, it’s the opposite story: ABC’s The Bachelor is the long-running and dominant force, while CBS premiered Love Island to a mixed reception last year, although it did renew the dating show for a second season.
Darnell has a theory that the two shows can’t co-exist in the same market. “It does appear that Love Island has taken over the space in the UK. I notice that Love Island didn’t really work over in the U.S. and it feels like maybe the two, once one is established, it’s hard to get a foothold [for the other],” he said. And on the prospect of Love Island putting down roots beyond a second season, Darnell was not convinced. “I’m just going to be really honest. I love CBS and I work with them, but I think based on those numbers last year, it will have to grow an awful lot to continue,” he added.
Listen to Your Heart is the latest in a conveyer belt of Bachelor franchise extensions, which makes it all the more remarkable that Darnell is yet to expand The Voice universe for NBC. There are other iterations of the format overseas, most notably The Voice Kids, but NBC has yet to be persuaded. Darnell remains enthusiastic about getting a kids’ version off the ground.
“I would love to do a Voice Kids in the U.S. It’s going to be ultimately NBC’s decision — it’s been talked about here and there, but we’re still not there with them. Voice Kids has done well everywhere, so I’d like to see one in America,” he explained.
SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details of tonight's The Walking Dead penultimate episode of Season 10, which is the de facto finale for the next little while thanks to the coronavirus crisis.
“You got a whole lot of family,” The Walking Dead‘s Daryl Dixon Norman Reedus tells the now parentless Judith Grimes Cailey Fleming in tonight's penultimate episode of Season 10, that marks the end of the current run, for now.
With AMC having to hit the pause button on the latest season of the zombie apocalypse series due to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, “The Tower” may be the last we know of the TWD universe for a while. Still, coming off the departure of sorts of Danai Gurira and her beloved Michonne character just a few weeks ago and now the premature end of the season, TWD tonight wasn't going out without a few surprises.
As a trio of Survivors venture into an empty Pittsburgh that looks like most of the world's big cities right now, the Princess character from the Robert Kirkman-created comics made her unique debut, for better and worse. Also, as Judith comes to terms with losing both her father Rick Grimes Andrew Lincoln and Michonne over the past two seasons, script flipping once villain Negan Jeffrey Dean Morgan tries to find a new role for himself with the daughter of Whisperers leader Alpha, who he killed in March 15's “Walk with Us” episode. And then there's the little matter of Alpha's murderous right-hand man Beta Ryan Hurst hearing his dead leader's voice and stewarding a herd of ravenous walkers to our heroes hiding out in an abandoned hospital - with the added “strange” injection, to quote showrunner Angela Kang, that suddenly the world of TWD seems eerily familiar to our own and its health crisis.
Working on Season 11 remotely, Kang chatted with me about the quicker than expected end to TWD‘s Season 10, why there will be no episode 16 for a while, what's coming next year and some urban tales.
DEADLINE: AMC announced on March 24 that next week's proper season finale will not be airing for the time being, where are things at now?
KANG: Obviously, we think everybody did an amazing job on episode 15. Hopefully, it serves a satisfying interim pause to it all, but you know, we were working really, really hard on 16 and cranking away.
DEADLINE: So why aren't we seeing the real finale next week?
For big episodes like that, to deliver them, it's basically about two weeks before air. It takes that long to get all of the post-production effects done and all the final finishing. So, we were about a week and a half out by the time the California governor called a shutdown to stuff because of...