Mark Burnett Exits Amazon’s MGM, Returns To Producing Roots, Will Continue To Oversee “Legacy” Series

Mark Burnett, Chairman of MGM’s Worldwide Television Group, is exiting after the company’s $8.5B acquisition by Amazon.

Burnett is leaving the company and will return to “independently creating and innovating” but will continue to oversee his legacy series, which include Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice.  

Last week, Deadline revealed that the man behind The Apprentice, was weighing his options as the fold-up between Amazon and MGM gains pace.

More details about the overall structure between Amazon and MGM are expected soon with Prime Video and Studios boss Mike Hopkins saying staff will be “hearing more shortly” about the re-organization.

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It comes eight years after he started his relationship with the studio; MGM acquired a majority stake in his One Three Media and LightWorkers Media companies in September 2014 before fully acquiring the companies the following year.

He became President of MGM Television and Digital Group in December 2015 and re-upped his deal in 2018 and became Chairman of the studio’s Worldwide Television Group.

It’s understood that Burnett’s current contract was up at the end of the year and there’s been rumors that he’s started talking to others about setting up a new production company.

Burnett has overseen both scripted and unscripted at the company, which is behind series such as Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, FX’s Fargo, Netflix’s Addams Family series Wednesday and the Vikings franchise.

But Burnett, who is an exec producer of NBC’s The Voice, ABC’s Shark Tank and CBS’ Survivor, is best known for his work in the unscripted realm.

He hasn’t overseen a great number of new hits, relaunching his first ever show, Eco-Challenge, as World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji, for Amazon in 2020 but it only aired one season, as well as boxing competition series The Contender for Epix, and Steve Harvey’s Funderdome for ABC.

He is currently exec producing Generation Gap, alongside Jimmy Kimmel, for ABC and Fox’s Beat Shazam.

Mark Burnett’s Note:

Dear Colleagues,

We’ve worked together for a very long time, in some cases for decades. We’ve innovated new shows and maintained our legacy hits with one of the highest renewal rates in global television.  I get a lot of praise for that.  But we all know it’s not about me. It’s about all of you. 

It takes great teams of talented people to produce more than 3,200 total hours of television including long-running hits like Survivor, The Voice and Shark Tank and innovative scripted series like The Bible, which together have garnered 143 EMMY nominations. 

In 2014 I sold a majority of my companies to MGM and came to this storied, 100 year-old studio as President  of Television. Later I sold the rest of my companies for MGM stock and became Chairman of MGM Global Television because I believed in the value of MGM.  

I had a clear strategic vision to build and grow MGM’s television division with my dynamic team, which included buying great companies like Evolution and Big Fish, adding international scripted and unscripted teams, and starting a documentaries unit.  We took calibrated risks and hired great people – and the business grew.

That growth was critical to MGM’s future, because MGM needed to maximize its value in order to attract a global streaming partner and be ready for its next 100 years.  I am proud to have been part of the team that achieved the historic sale to Amazon in 2022. 

Now, after months of collaborative transition efforts, we have thoughtfully re- organized our teams so that they all have the opportunity to prosper under the leadership of Mike Hopkins, Jennifer Salke and Christopher Brearton. In these days of media layoffs I am proud to say that everyone in the TV division has been offered a way to continue to contribute. No one was left behind.  

As I step away from day to day management and back into independently creating and innovating,  I will continue to oversee my legacy series and be available to all of you and to Amazon for guidance and support. 

Thanks team – I literally could not have done any of this without each of you.
Mark Burnett. 

Mike Hopkins’s Note 

Hi team –

As you likely just read, Mark Burnett has decided to leave Amazon and MGM to resume his work as an independent creator and producer. I wanted to follow up by thanking him for his countless contributions to our success and, on a personal level, for his partnership and counsel throughout the integration. I know you’ll all agree that he is one of the most innovative, creative, and prolific television producers in our industry, and we have been extraordinarily fortunate to have him on our team.

Mark’s stepping aside of course raises both opportunities and questions about how we’ll be organized moving forward. You’ll be hearing more about this shortly.

I am incredibly proud of the outstanding television and film content that we produce, and look forward to 2023 and beyond, when as a fully integrated team we continue to build on this legacy. Thanks for all your commitment and dedication as we head into a dynamic and successful future together.

Mike

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