Burnett announced the news to staff in an internal memo, which IndieWire has obtained and can be read below.
The news comes months after Amazon officially acquired MGM in an $8.5 billion deal finalized this March. With Burnett leaving, MGM’s television and film arms will be without a head, as Michael DeLuca and Pam Abdy left the company a month after the acquisition was confirmed.
Burnett has been with MGM Television for eight years, when he was named president of MGM Television. He was named chairman in 2018. Under his direction, MGM Television vastly expanded its output by acquiring production companies like Evolution Media, which develops shows in the “Real Housewives Franchise,” and Big Fish Entertainment.
A 12-time Emmy Award winner, Burnett is one of the most experienced producers in the business, having produced hundreds of television shows for multiple cable networks, streaming, and all four main network channels. After his first big show, CBS’ “Survivor,” he produced popular reality series, including “The Apprentice,” “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?,” “Shark Tank,” “The Voice,” “Beat Shazam,” “Coupled,” and “TKO: Total Knock Out.” Other major shows from Burnett include “Fargo” on FX and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the first streaming series to win Best Drama at the Emmys.
Read Burnett’s memo below.
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.