Mr McDanell, 44, who left MTV Europe a month ago following a four-year career as financial controller of the music station, said he accepted the job once Mr Wright, who also owns Queens Park Rangers football club, assured him he would remain executive chairman.
"Chris wants to be involved in the business and get on with attracting talent," Mr McDanell said. "I am there to handle the day-to-day business."
MTV Europe has struggled in the past two years, as it has expanded on the Continent and overseas. Mr McDanell is thought to have been approached by Mr Wright a year ago, but had elected to stay on to work on improving the company's prospects.
Chrysalis is one of the leading independent television producers in the UK, and has a significant group of recording labels. But the company, which is majority owned by Mr Wright, has frustrated some institutional investors because it has not created a sustainable earnings flow. It also surprised the City last month by pulling out of the feature film business.
Mr Wright, speaking from Cannes, said: "I was looking to bring someone in on the finance and administrative side, rather than a creative person. I was worried that someone from the creative side wouldn't get along with the people running the divisions."
Mr McDanell is a certified accountant and has worked for 15 years in the media. He joins Chrysalis on a two-year contract, with a year's notice period, and will be paid what the company called a "competitive" package that will include stock options.Reuse content