By Holy Byrnes, Daily Telegraph
WORKING hard at life, as in love, is what Darren McMullen does.
You want something, it’s best to go at it around the clock, don’t take no for an answer, seize the day, make it happen.
Speaking to BW from the Napa Valley, California’s rich wine country, seems appropriate then:
drinking in the good fortune he’s made for himself, with his actor girlfriend, Crystal Reed by his side.
A belated Valentine’s weekend for the busy TV couple, perhaps?
More about McMullen’s determination to keep a good thing going.
“I keep thinking that she’s way too good for me and so I have to keep bamboozling her so the magic doesn’t wear off,” he says, nine wineries in.
“Every good man feels like they’re out of her league, right? I certainly do,” he says.
The sporting analogy is fitting too, given the former Voice host’s most recent success in the US with an NFL reality show called Football Fanatic – produced and presented by McMullen, and three years in the making.
Longer if you count when his love for American football began.
“I grew up in Scotland as a seven-year- old, just obsessed with football in America. It came about simply because I had to go to bed early on a Sunday and had a television in my room. One of the ones with the rabbit ears you have to tune in and I used to be able to get NFL football.”
What began as a young boy “being a bad ass and rebelling against my parents by staying up late” turned into a passion for the “flashy, American, fireworks, national anthem, amazing game of chess” spectacle of it all.
After moving to the US back in 2010, McMullen and Reed would follow the sport from city to city.
“I’ve got to give Crystal the credit for the initial spark of the idea. It was an amazing way to travel and she said, ‘hey, you’re a TV host, you love football, why don’t you combine the two?’ It was one of those light bulb moments … there was absolutely something there.”
Indeed, USA Network and the NFL thought so, commissioning McMullen after he pitched a series about his search for a team to follow.
It was a spitball he’d thrown out at the end of a meeting with Wilshire Studios, and within 48 hours, the idea had been escalated to senior management.
“You can never have a bad meeting in LA, they’re too friendly to say ‘go f*ck yourself’ which is a blessing and a curse. So I walked away and didn’t think I’d hear back.”
When the pilot was shopped to advertisers, the NFL wanted in, and eight episodes later, with a second season planned, the quirky format was a TV touchdown.
It’s a concept he could see working for Australia’s footy codes too, but first he’s got his eye on a bigger, local prize: a gig on breakfast radio, taking on Kiis FM titans, Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O.
“I have always loved radio,” McMullen says, “and whenever I was back, or shooting stuff in Australia, I would pop in. Filling in for Jabba on Nova, or a stint on 2Day but I absolutely loved it.”
Technology as it is today, he explains, his US commitments wouldn’t keep him from hosting a show: “the thing with radio is that if you connect with an audience, that’s what counts. I’m as up-to- date with what’s going on in Australia as anyone else because of the way news filters through now [online]. I know what’s going on, I spend six to seven months of every year so I could be [in Sydney] the majority of the year.”
As for the reigning ratings winners he sees himself up against, McMullen is respectful but undeterred.
“Kyle polarises people, but I’ve got to be honest, anytime I’ve ever switched on, it’s never boring and that can’t be said for every radio star in Australia.”
“I don’t think I would challenge that but if I was against them, I would prefer to be less toxic. Their radio show is salacious and not everybody wants that, you know? But they do that better than anybody I’ve heard.”
“I think there’s a good place for inspiring radio. You wake up, it’s happy, not nasty, not bitchy or salacious. Just a bunch of people you look up to, having fun and it gets you in a good mood for the rest of your day,” he pitches.
We’ll drink to that.
Darren McMullen is managed exclusively by The Fordham Company.