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Mike Darnell, Reality-TV Legend, Re-ups With Fox

Fox is facing all sorts of reality-show headaches these days: replacing Simon Cowell on American Idol, batting down rumors about Paula Abdul joining Cowell on The X Factor, trying to get across what’s different about their umpteenth Gordon Ramsay cooking competition (Master Chef, which debuts July 27). But the network has avoided what might have been a massive migraine: Vulture has learned (and a Fox rep confirms) that Mike Darnell, the network's longtime mastermind behind everything from Alien Autopsy to American Idol, has signed a new three-year deal to remain as president of alternative programming for the network. Darnell, a former child actor who's been called the dark prince of reality TV (he brought us Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire and Temptation Island), has been in charge of Fox reality since 1996; he's mellowed somewhat in recent years, focusing on such advertiser-friendly feel-good fare as Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. But the pendulum always swings back: Maybe in his next term we’ll finally see the return of Celebrity Boxing.

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