"Idol" showrunner Warwick inks new deal

Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:26am EDT
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By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "American Idol" executive producer/showrunner Ken Warwick has signed a three-year deal with the show's co-producer, FremantleMedia North America, to remain at the helm of television's top-rated series.

The pact, said to be well into the eight-figure range, is believed the richest for a reality-show showrunner.

It comes on the heels of another three-year deal -- a $45 million agreement inked recently by host Ryan Seacrest with "Idol" co-producer 19 Entertainment -- that broke a money record for a reality host.

FremantleMedia declined comment on Warwick's deal.

Warwick has been on Fox's "Idol," created by Simon Fuller, since the show's first episode in 2000. He was co-showrunner for the first seven seasons alongside Nigel Lythgoe and became sole showrunner when Lythgoe left last summer.

During his first solo stint at "Idol's" helm this past season, Warwick spearheaded a series of format tweaks, including fewer audition-based and more Hollywood-round episodes, 36 contestants instead of 24 competing in the semifinals and the return of the wild-card round.

On "Idol," he oversees all aspects of the show, including sponsorship deals, product integration and music.

"Idol's" ratings have eroded the past couple of seasons, following an industrywide trend, but it remains television's top-rated and most profitable series by a wide margin. The show recently landed eight Emmy nominations, including its seventh consecutive nod for best reality competition series.   Continued...

<p>Contestants line up to audition for the television show "American Idol" at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena August 8, 2006. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>