Mark Burnett

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For other people named Mark Burnett, see Mark Burnett (disambiguation).
Mark Burnett
Burnett in 2009
Born (1960-07-17) 17 July 1960 (age 56)
London, England
Occupation Television producer, executive producer, author
Religion Christianity[1]
Spouse(s) Roma Downey (m. 2007)
Dianne J. Burnett (née Valentine; ca. 1991–2003; divorced; two sons)
Children James and Cameron Burnett
Reilly Anspaugh (stepdaughter)

Mark Burnett (born 17 July 1960)[2] is a British-born, Los Angeles-based television producer and, since December 2015, president of MGM Television and Digital Group.

Burnett is the executive producer of six network television shows / specials and one cable show: The Voice and Celebrity Apprentice (NBC); Survivor and The People's Choice Awards (CBS); Shark Tank, ; "Steve Harvey's FunderDome" (ABC),; and Lucha Underground (The El Rey Network). As President of MGM Television, Burnett oversees Fargo (FX), Teen Wolf (MTV), Vikings (History).

Burnett additionally produced the cable miniseries The Bible and A.D. The Bible Continues, as well as the feature films Son of God, Little Boy, and Woodlawn.

He has won 10 Emmy Awards, four Producers Guild of America Awards, five Critics' Choice Television Awards, and six People's Choice Awards.

Early life[edit]

Burnett was born on 17 July 1960 in London, the only child of Archie and Jean Burnett, both Ford Motors factory workers,[3] and was raised in Dagenham, Essex. His father was a Roman Catholic and his mother was a Presbyterian, although it is not known in which denomination he was raised.[4][5] Aged 17, he enlisted in the British Army, and became a Section Commander in the Parachute Regiment. From 1978–82 he served with the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment in C Company and saw action during the Falklands War.[3]

Early career[edit]

In October 1982, Burnett emigrated to the United States, where his friend Nick Hill, who had emigrated from the UK several years earlier, was working as a nanny and chauffeur. Hill knew of an open position for a live-in nanny with the Jaeger family in affluent Beverly Hills. Despite having no experience as a nanny, Burnett went on the interview. The Jaegers, realizing the advantage of having a nanny and security at the same time, hired him. After a year of working for the Jaegers, he moved on to another family in the beach city of Malibu, California, taking care of two boys for $250 a week. He was eventually given a position in the insurance office owned by Burt, the father of the two boys. Two years later, Burnett rented a portion of a fence at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, and sold T-shirts for $18 each during weekends. Realizing he made more money selling T-shirts, he left his insurance job.[6] In 1991, Burnett, and four others joined a French adventure competition, the Raid Gauloises. Afterward, Burnett saw a business opportunity in holding similar competitions. He purchased the format rights and brought a similar competition, Eco-Challenge, to America. Eco-Challenge launched Burnett's career as a television producer.[3]


Burnett is best known for producing the hit reality show Survivor, which premiered in the summer of 2000 and was the most watched summer series since Sonny and Cher.[7] Survivor was named the Number 1 reality series of all time by Entertainment Weekly in 2009.[8]

In 2004, NBC premiered the The Apprentice, a reality television series in which contestants competed for a job under real estate magnate Donald Trump.[9] The Apprentice spawned numerous licensed international versions of the show.

Burnett has produced several other television franchises including: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Shark Tank, and The Voice.[10] He has maintained a strong presence in award show franchises, having produced the MTV Movie Awards (2007–2011), the annual People's Choice Awards (2010–present), the Spike Video Game Awards and the 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards.[citation needed]

Burnett has produced more than 2,900 hours of television programming which regularly airs in more than 70 countries.[11] Past shows include Bully Beatdown, Combat Missions, The Contender, The Contender Asia, Expedition Africa, Expedition Impossible, How'd You Get So Rich?, Martha Stewart, My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad, On the Lot (a collaboration with Steven Spielberg), The Restaurant, Rock Star, Sarah Palin's Alaska, Stars Earn Stripes, Starmaker, Toughest Cowboy, and Wedding Day.

As well as his ongoing productions, Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey, produced The Bible, a 10-hour History Channel drama based upon stories of the Bible.[12] The Bible became the No. 1 new series on cable TV in 2013[13] and was the No. 1 series in Canada, Spain, and Portugal.[14] In total, with subsequent airings, The Bible was seen by more than 100 million viewers.[15]

After the success of The Bible, Burnett and Downey started developing more faith-based scripted series. A.D. The Bible Continues premiered on NBC on Easter Sunday 2015, and The Dovekeepers miniseries aired on CBS in Spring 2015.

In October 2013, NBC announced that it has reached a deal with Burnett and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to produce a television series on which contestants will compete to win a spaceflight aboard SpaceShipTwo. The series will be titled Space Race, although it is currently undeterminable when the show will begin airing.[16]

In September 2014, MGM acquired a 55 percent interest in One Three Media and LightWorkers Media, both operated by Burnett and his wife. The two companies will be consolidated into a new film and television company, United Artists Media Group. Burnett is UAMG's CEO and Downey is president of LightWorkers Media.[17]

In December 2015, Burnett was named president of MGM Television and Digital Group, signing a five-year deal. Burnett's appointment was set up to occur simultaneously with the closing of MGM's acquisition of the remaining 45 percent of Hearst's, Burnett's and Roma Downey‘s interests in United Artists Media Group (UAMG), which will be absorbed under the MGM Television Group umbrella. MGM Television will now have numerous unscripted and scripted television shows airing on network and cable or in production including: The Voice (NBC); Survivor (CBS); Shark Tank (ABC); Beyond the Tank (ABC); Celebrity Apprentice (NBC); Fargo (FX);Vikings (HISTORY); Teen Wolf (MTV); 500 Questions (ABC); The People's Choice Awards (CBS); Lucha Underground (El Rey Network) and America's Greatest Makers (INTEL/Turner).[18]

In 2016, Burnett produced the film Ben-Hur, a film adaptation of the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.[9] The film was a box office flop.[9]

Personal life[edit]

In January 2004, Burnett began dating Downey. In November 2006, while the two were vacationing with their children in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, he proposed to her.[19] They wed on 28 April 2007 in their Malibu home. The ceremony was officiated by Downey's former co star, Della Reese.[20]

Both Burnett and Downey produced The Bible miniseries and are now co-owners of United Artists Media Group together with MGM and Hearst. In addition to their producing projects, the couple is heavily involved with philanthropic organizations Operation Smile and Compassion. In 2014, they announced a fundraising plan called Cradle of Christianity that aims to raise $25 million to help Iraqi and Syrian Christians and other minorities displaced by ISIL survive that upcoming winter.[21]

Burnett was previously married to Dianne J. Burnett (née Valentine); they have two sons, James and Cameron.[22] The couple filed for legal separation in September 2002 and a judgment for legal separation was granted in December 2003.[22][23] They later divorced.[when?]

Awards, honors and affiliations[edit]

In 2004, Time called Burnett one of the Most Influential People in the World Today.[24] Burnett was also named "Philanthropist of the Year" by the Reality Cares Foundation. He has won both Brandweek's "Marketer of the Year Award", the prestigious Rose d’Or Frapa Format Award, the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award and the Norman Lear Award from the Producers Guild of America.

Burnett served for two years on the Board of Directors for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.[25] In November 2007, Burnett was elected into the Broadcast & Cable Hall of Fame and in 2008, it was announced that he would be honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On 8 July 2009, Burnett received a star at 6664 Hollywood Blvd.[26] In June 2011, Burnett was elected into the Producers Guild of America Council Board of Delegates and currently serves on the Producers Council. He is an ambassador for Operation Smile.

In 2013, the ten-hour mini-series The Bible received the Parents Television Council 2013 Seal of Approval. Shark Tank, The Voice, and Survivor were all nominated for Critics Choice Awards, at which the Voice won for Best Reality Series - Competition.[27] The three shows were nominated for the Television Critics Association Awards, at which Shark Tank won for Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming.[28]

In 2013, The Voice, Shark Tank and The Bible were nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards; The Voice won for Outstanding Reality – Competition Program. "The Voice" and "Shark Tank" were nominated at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Television Awards, at which "Shark Tank" won for Best Reality Series.

In 2014, Burnett and his wife Roma Downey were recipients of the Anti-Defamation League's Entertainment Industry Award.


Special Awards

  • 2004: Brandweek Marketer of the Year Award
  • 2004: Reality Cares Foundation 'Philanthropist of the Year'[29]
  • 2004: 'Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award'
  • 2004: Time Magazine: 'Time 100: 100 Most Influential People in the World Today'
  • 2005: Rose d’Or Frapa Format Award
  • 2009: Producers Guild of America 'Norman Lear Award'[30]
  • 2009: Hollywood Walk of Fame Star: 'Excellence in Television'[31]
  • 2010: Producers Guild of America 'Lifetime Achievement Award in Television'
  • 2013: TV Guide Magazine 'Producer of the Year'
  • 2013: The Dove Foundation Recognition of 'Son of God'
  • 2014: Anti-Defamation League 'Entertainment Award'

Published works[edit]

  • Mark Burnett (2001). Dare to Succeed:How to Survive and Thrive in the Game of Life. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6849-X. 
  • Mark Burnett (2005). Jump In!: Even If You Don't Know How to Swim. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-345-48098-8. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Downey, Roma & Mark Burnett. Making The Bible a Daunting, Deep Experience, Huffington Post, 28 February 2013.
  2. ^ "Mark Burnett Biography: Television Producer, Writer (1960–)". (FYI / A&E Networks). Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "Mark Burnett biography". Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Mark Burnett and Roma Downey on "The Bible", PBS, 8 March 2013.
  5. ^ Portland Press Herald: "A ‘Ben-Hur’ for our time" by Steven Zeitchik August 21, 2016 | Downey and Burnett are staunch Catholics; Ridley is also a devout Christian, Huston and Bekmambetov, who was raised in a communist country, are more secular; Daniel and MGM principal Gary Barber are Jewish
  6. ^ Burnett, Mark (2005). JJump In!. New York: Ballantine Books / Random House. pp. 16–25. ISBN 0-345-48098-8. 
  7. ^ Hochman, David (14 July 2000). "And The Banned Played On". Entertainment Weekly. 
  8. ^ 20 Best Reality-TV Shows Ever
  9. ^ a b c Purdum, Todd (11 October 2016). "The Man Behind the Tapes That Could Sink the Donald". Politico. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  10. ^ "Country Singer Blake Shelton Rounds Out 'The Voice' Team Of Coaches",, March 2011.
  11. ^ A+E Networks – Life is Entertaining. Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  12. ^ Elber, Lynn (24 May 2011). "'The Bible': History Channel, Mark Burnett Creating CGI 10-Hour Miniseries". Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Press Release. Roma Downey And Mark Burnett's #1 New Cable Series THE BIBLE Is Also A New York Times Best Seller, Dominating Amazon And Is #1 On iTunes And #1 On Twitter, 25 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Press Release". 
  15. ^ Capretto, Lisa (12 April 2013). "WATCH: Mark Burnett And Roma Downey Respond To Satan-Obama Controversy". Huffington Post. 
  16. ^ Boyle, Alan (3 October 2013). "NBC teams up with Virgin Galactic for 'Space Race' reality TV show". NBC News. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  17. ^ Busch, Mike Fleming Jr,Anita (22 September 2014). "MGM Buys 55% Of Roma Downey And Mark Burnett's Empire; Relaunches United Artists". 
  18. ^ "Mark Burnett Named President of MGM Television". 14 December 2015. 
  19. ^ Sharon Cotliar and Cynthia Wang. "Mark Burnett and Roma Downey Engaged",, 27 November 2006
  20. ^ Wang, Cynthia. "Mark Burnett, Roma Downey Marry in Malibu",, 29 April 2007
  21. ^ "Winter Is Coming: Mark Burnett, Roma Downey Launch $25 Million Plan To Help Christians in Iraq and Syria". 
  22. ^ a b "In re the Marriage of J. MARK and DIANNE J. BURNETT". Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BD376427. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  23. ^ Michael Starr (28 November 2006). "BURNETT FINDS HIS 'ANGEL'". New York Post. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  24. ^ "The 2004 TIME 100 - TIME". 
  25. ^ Burnett profile at
  26. ^ "Entertainment/Hollywood News". 
  27. ^ Critics Choice Award Winners 2013 — The Big Bang Theory. TVLine (2013-06-10). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  28. ^ The Television Critics Association Announces 2013 TCA Award Nominees | Television Critics Association. (2013-06-10). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  29. ^ Buzz Media. "Press Release" (PDF). Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  30. ^ PGA. "Award-Winning Television Producer Mark Burnett to Be Honored with 2010 Norman Lear Achievement Award". PGA. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  31. ^ Weber, Scott. "Mark "Survivor" Burnett Gets Hollywood Walk of Fame Star". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 

External links[edit]