Australian producer and US TV executive David Lyle, who headed up Fremantle USA, FOX Reality Channel and National Geographic Channels, has died aged 67.
He died following a battle with cancer in Los Angeles.
To Australian audiences Lyle was best known for presenting The Golden Years of Television for TEN in the 1980s, but he is regarded as a pioneer of Reality TV in the US.
He broke into television as a writer and producer with ABC and TEN. By the late 1980s, he was working at Nine as an executive producer and program creator. He advanced to Head of Development and Acquisitions for Nine, where he worked on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Trading Spaces.
He became Head of Worldwide Development and Acquisitions for Pearson Television (UK) before becoming President of Entertainment for FremantleMedia North America, working with Simon Fuller to turn American Idol into the most-watched US SSseries in primetime.
After Fremantle he ran the FOX Reality Channel for 5 years before it was transformed into Nat Geo Wild in early 2010. He became head of National Geographic Channels from 2011- 2014.
Hugh Marks Nine CEO said: “David Lyle was a larger than life character whose passion and creative brilliance contributed greatly to Nine and to all our careers. His wit and acute sense of storytelling made working with him inspiring. We will miss him, and celebrate his life with a bottle of his favourite passioncello. Salute.”
Phil Gurin of IM Global Television called Lyle “a champion for the underdog creators, a passionate advocate for formats and a true believer who inspired countless producers, format creators and channels the world over.
“He was a dear friend, confidante, raconteur and legend. He shall be missed here, there and everywhere … especially at the bar at the Carlton Hotel with a dram in his hand, a smile on his face and a story in his heart.”
“David Lyle was one of the few television executives who thrived on both a creative and business level,” said Howard T. Owens, co-CEO of Propagate Content, who worked with Lyle at Nat Geo. “He was one of the kindest, most fun, and caring people I’ve ever known. He always had time to mentor people and help others out in their careers.”
“David Lyle was a rare breed, in our industry and in the world. A true bon vivant, he brought light and life into every room, along with a passion for the creatives of this business,” said John Ford, general manager of NPACT. “We will all miss David’s maverick mettle, along with his vitality, brilliant insights and humor.”
SPA CEO Matt Deaner said, “David Lyle was a true champion of the creative development of the television industry and independent producers from the start of his career in Australia. This core passion was reflected in his international success and will serve as one of his key legacies. As FremantleMedia’s breakthrough executive in the US market, he took his innate maverick charm through to every level of his sterling ascension through the international broadcasting ranks.”
“He was not only at the forefront on content development, but a tireless advocate for the issues affecting the industry globally in his devoted work with trade associations NPACT and PactUS and industry advocacy for the format sector as co-founder of FRAPA.
“The Australian screen industry is lucky to be able to name David Lyle as one of its own and Screen Producers Australia honours his outstanding work in helping put Australian industry voices into the global arena and setting the template for how to forge new paths internationally as a highly respected trailblazer and gentleman.”
Nine will hold a memorial to celebrate his life in coming weeks, after consultation with family.