Mark Burnett, chairman of worldwide television group at MGM, has officially tendered his resignation following the storied studio’s $8.5 billion acquisition by Amazon in March. He becomes the latest executive departure, following motion picture group chairman Michael De Luca and motion picture group president Pam Abdy’s departures in April.
MGM chief operating officer Christopher Brearton is now the sole exec left from the interim leadership structure set up by Amazon back in March.
In a memo to staffers, Burnett wrote, “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.”
The departure is not surprising, given the producer was best known for overseeing unscripted hits like CBS’ “Survivor,” NBC’s “The Voice” and ABC’s “Shark Tank.” At the time, industry experts questioned where his unconventional executive style might fit in with Amazon’s more data-driven approach to projects. Previous reports also indicated that Burnett’s tenure at MGM was a disruptive one, leading to divisiveness with other execs at the studio and failures to produce new hits (MGM TV president Steve Stark was behind the studio’s award-winning and critically acclaimed fare “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Fargo”).
Larger questions about how MGM will mesh with Amazon’s culture under the leadership of Amazon Studios and Prime Video SVP Mike Hopkins and Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke also remain. The two execs will now oversee MGM’s sprawling library of content across film and TV, which includes hundreds of thousands of feature titles and episodes.
In a separate memo, Hopkins added, “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.”
In his memo, Burnett emphasized his legacy reality TV hits, which have collective garnered 143 Emmy noms. In 2014, the executive sold a majority of his companies to MGM, later selling the rest to acquire significant equity in the studio, meaning that he profited greatly from the Amazon acquisition.
“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,” he said in his memo.