It may not sound like much at first, but Cablevision and Time Warner took an important step today to help make TV Everywhere a reality. The companies announced that Cablevision customers now can watch shows from TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and truTV on broadband-enabled devices outside the home — not just inside. The arrangement also provides for live streaming of news from CNN and HLN. Over the next year or so you can expect to hear a lot of announcements like this from pay TV distributors and programmers. Comcast, Dish Network, and Verizon are already a step ahead of Cablevision in offering out-of-home service. But this deal for a package called Turner TV Everywhere is the first time Cablevision has offered such popular entertainment and news programming so broadly to digital devices.
It’s an end of an era at MTV – after what has been years of speculation, Viacom today announced that veteran Judy McGrath is resigning from her position as Chairman and CEO of its MTV Networks. McGrath, who had been at MTV almost from the beginning, starting as a copywriter at the music channel in 1981, and was named Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks in July 2004 by then-Viacom co-president and co-COO (and McGrath mentor) Tom Freston, to whom she reported. But after the abrupt firing of Freston in 2006, there was rampant speculation that she would leave too. She ultimately made peace with the new top management, but rumors about her leaving persisted. Three years ago, she was rumored to run Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, where Freston works as an adviser. And last year, NBCUniversal’s Lauren Zalaznick explored the possibility of taking McGrath’s position before re-upping with the newly merged Comcast-NBC Universal. There will be no replacement for McGrath as Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman reportedly wanted to have direct oversight of the company’s cable divisions. Following McGrath’s departure, Doug Herzog, President, MTVN Entertainment Group; Van Toffler, President, MTVN Music & Logo Group; and Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon & MTVN Kids & Family Group, who used to report to McGrath, will report directly to Dauman. Below are McGrath’s statement and Dauman’s memo on her exit:
MTV Networks’ rookie awards show has announced it will give the actor-comedian the inaugural Comedy Icon Award, which goes “to a modern icon, an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to comedy and whose impact and innovations have changed the landscape and inspired future generations of entertainers.” Billed as the first awards show celebrating comedy, The Comedy Awards will be taped March 26 in New York and premiere April 10 across Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, VH1, Logo and Nick at Nite. Confirmed attendees include Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Louis C.K. and Kristin Wiig.
Casey Patterson has been promoted to EVP event production, talent development and studio relations for the MTV Networks Entertainment Group. Patterson, who reports to the group’s president Doug Herzog, was formerly SVP of Spike TV and TV Land. In her expanded role, Patterson has developed and will co-executive produce MTV Networks’ upcoming Comedy Awards. At Spike TV, she oversees Video Game Awards, Guys Choice and Scream; at TV Land, she oversees the production of the TV Land Awards.
Viacom’s MTV Networks, led by Comedy Central, is starting a new comedy awards franchise, The Comedy Awards. The first annual Comedy Awards show will be held at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday, March 26 and will air on Sunday, April 10, 2011, running simultaneously on MTV Networks’ Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, VH1 and Nick At Nite.
The show, which will be executive produced by veteran Don Mischer, will recognize “the year’s best comedy films, television series and digital content” with awards for writers, directors and actors as well as lifetime achievement honors for “pioneering legends.” Nominees will be be selected by The Comedy Awards’ board of directors whose founding members include James Burrows, Billy Crystal, Will Ferrell, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Grey, Seth MacFarlane, Adam McKay, Jimmy Miller, Jay Roach, Ray Romano, Rory Rosegarten, Phil Rosenthal. The winners will be chosen by an invitation-only voting body comprised of 500-1000 members from the comedy community — including writers, producers, performers and directors. There will be several awards determined by fans through online voting at thecomedyawards.com
In conjunction with the launch of The Comedy Awards, the MTVN Entertainment Group has joined forces with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to launch The American Comedy Fund, designed to provide financial assistance, health benefits and other resources for comedians in need. The American Comedy Fund will be administered by …
EXCLUSIVE: Nickelodeon has picked up its flagship animated series SpongeBob SquarePants for a ninth season with a 26-episode order, which will push the veteran series over the 200th episode mark. Season 9 is slated to air in 2012. SpongeBob has been TV’s No.1 animated series with kids 2-11 for 10 consecutive years. It also ranks as basic cable’s top animated show in total viewers and as MTV Networks’ most widely distributed property ever with sales in 171 territories. “SpongeBob‘s success in reaching over 200 episodes is a testament to creator Stephen Hillenburg’s vision, comedic sensibility and his dynamic, lovable characters,” said Brown Johnson, President, Animation, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. SpongeBob creator Hillenburg executive produces the series alongside Paul Tibbitt who has been on the show since after the pilot, serving as a director and writer on for its first three seasons and eventually taking over day-to-day responsibilities from Hillenburg. “We never imagined we would be on for that long but we’re going to keep going,” Tibbitt said. “The trick is to try to keep the episodes funny and simple and press from there.” The Nov. 11 SpongeBob special, Mystery with a Twistery, drew 6.6 million viewers, ranking as the year’s top animated telecast with kids 2-11. The series’ next special, Legends of Bikini Bottom, an hour-long anthology, will premiere on Jan. 28.
Kusbit is a MTV Networks veteran who was an executive at MTV from 1997-2003, creating such franchises for the network as Total Request Live and Made before segueing into producing with an overall deal at MTV Networks. When he joined CMT in 2007, the MTV Networks-owned channel allowed him to keep his company up and running. “I sort of have been juggling both balls the whole time, and while I love CMT, I love wrapping my hands around projects and producing,” Kusbit said. He will now return full-time to his WME-repped One Louder Prods., which produces the Emmy-winning Made. Additionally, his overall deal with MTV Networks will now expand to include CMT, which has already greenlit a series of Made episodes designed specifically for the network.
During Kusbit’s tenure at CMT, he oversaw the development and launch of such highly-rated unscripted series as Gone Country, My Big Redneck Wedding and World’s Strictest Parents. He also orchestrated the network’s entrance into scripted programming and serves an an executive producer on CMT’s first-ever sitcom, Working Class, which will launch in January. “Bob brought a fun perspective and contagious energy to CMT,” said Brian Philips, President of CMT. “We’ll miss having him around every day, but we’re thrilled he’ll remain a part of the CMT …
MTV Networks has acquired the TV rights to a package of 2010 theatrical films from NBC Universal. Spike TV has attained the rights to Robin Hood, Wolfman, Green Zone and MacGruber. Comedy Central has procured the rights to Get Him to the Greek while MTV has acquired Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Spike TV’s broadcast rights for Wolfman and Green Zone begin June 1, 2012 while the premiere window for Robin Hood and MacGruber begins September 1, 2012. The deal with NBCU also includes library titles Scarface, A Bronx Tale, Cape Fear, and the Jaws trilogy. Comedy Central has a premiere window for Get Him To the Greek on September 1, 2012 while MTV will have the broadcast premiere of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World on November 1, 2012.