Michael Thorn to lead Fox Broadcasting’s entertainment division as David Madden heads to AMC


David Madden is leaving his post as president of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s entertainment division, the company announced Wednesday.

Madden is in advanced talks to take a top executive post at AMC Networks, filling the role of Joel Stillerman, who departed for streaming service Hulu in May, according to people familiar with the discussions who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them publicly. Madden would oversee programming at the cable networks AMC and Sundance TV and also play a lead role at AMC’s production studio. An AMC spokesman declined to comment.

Madden is being succeeded at Fox by Michael Thorn, who served as executive vice president in charge of program development at parent company 21st Century Fox’s television studio. Thorn, 47, oversaw “This Is Us,” the studio’s hit drama that currently airs on NBC and was last season’s sole breakout show on the broadcast networks.


“We’ve worked with Michael for the past decade, and in terms of creative chops and leadership skills, he’s one of the best,” Fox Television Group co-Chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman said in a statement.

Thorn has been at Fox’s TV studio for seven years. His career also includes stints at NBC as head of the drama development team at the network and its studio. He was also an executive at Lost Marbles Television, the production company behind the MTV series “Teen Wolf.”

Madden oversaw all prime-time programming at Fox since February 2014, when Walden and Newman took responsibility of the network in addition to the studio. Madden moved to the network after serving as president of the Fox TV Studios, where he oversaw the production of a number of successful cable dramas such as “The Shield.”

During his term on the broadcast side, Madden was faced with the daunting task of dealing with the loss of “American Idol” in 2016, which had long been Fox’s top-rated program.

While the singing competition show had faded and was no longer a money-maker for the network, Fox had to replace the dozens of hours that “Idol” filled on its schedule over the course of the season. (“Idol” was picked up by ABC, which will relaunch it in 2018).

Madden did not develop a game-changing scripted or reality hit for Fox to mitigate the effect of losing “Idol.


Despite the challenges, Fox did renew four of its scripted shows launched last season — “Lethal Weapon,” “Star” “The Exorcist” and “The Mick.” It finished second for the 2016-17 TV season in viewers ages 18 to 49, the group most sought by advertisers, behind NBC.

Programming a network has become a precarious task in recent years as traditional broadcasters struggle with the loss of viewers who have migrated to online platforms for video entertainment.

Thorn becomes the third new entertainment president to be named by the broadcast networks in the last 18 months. Channing Dungey replaced Paul Lee at ABC in February 2016, and Kelly Kahl spelled Glenn Geller at CBS in May.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio