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Viacom reorganizes creative team before CBS merger

Viacom headquarters in New York.
Viacom headquarters in New York.
(Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

Viacom Inc. Chief Executive Bob Bakish is streamlining his team by identifying key executives who will oversee the various TV networks and film properties after Viacom’s upcoming merger with CBS Corp.

The Viacom-CBS marriage is expected to be completed by mid-December. On Monday, Viacom announced that four veteran programming executives — Showtime’s David Nevins, Nickelodeon’s Brian Robbins, MTV’s Chris McCarthy and Paramount Pictures’ Jim Gianopulos — are getting increased turf as part of a management overhaul of TV, film and digital operations. Several other management changes also were announced.

McCarthy, a rising star in the company, will gain a much bigger portfolio, becoming president of entertainment and youth brands. The New York-based executive already runs Viacom’s legacy channels, MTV and VH1, and Logo and CMT. He will pick up responsibility for four additional networks: Comedy Central, TV Land, Paramount Network and the Smithsonian Channel, the last of which currently is part of CBS.

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Nevins, who has managed the premium channel Showtime for CBS since 2010, also has an expansive role. His profile increased substantially after the exit of CBS’ longtime leader, Leslie Moonves, when Nevins was elevated to chief creative officer for CBS with oversight of programming for the broadcast network in addition to Showtime. Nevins, based in Los Angeles, will continue in that role and also will oversee the increasingly important CBS Television Studios and BET. Scott Mills will continue to provide day-to-day management at BET.

Robbins, who became president of Viacom’s Nickelodeon business in October 2018, takes over AwesomenessTV. His new title is president of kids and family entertainment. It’s a homecoming for Robbins, who created AwesomenessTV in 2012 with longtime producing partner Joe Davola. The pair sold the once-highflying business to DreamWorks Animation in 2013, and Viacom claimed it last year. Robbins is based in Burbank and Hollywood.

Gianopulos will continue as chairman and chief executive of Paramount Pictures, which includes the storied film studio, Paramount Animation and Paramount TV.

“This talented team of content leaders will work together to ensure we realize the full power of our brands, our deep relationships with the creative community and our intellectual property to drive our growth as a combined company,” Bakish said in a statement. Bakish will run the two companies as chief executive of ViacomCBS when the deal is completed.

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As part of the moves, Carolyn Kroll Reidy’s role as chief executive of publishing firm Simon & Schuster Inc. will remain unchanged.

Longtime Viacom executives Kent Alterman and Sarah Levy are leaving the company.

Alterman has been with Viacom for two decades and manages Comedy Central, TV Land and Paramount Network. Levy, a longtime Nickelodeon executive, has been chief operating officer of Viacom’s Media Networks group for about a year, but that role is being phased out, one of the knowledgeable people said.

Last week, CBS announced a change in leadership at its internet division, CBS Interactive. As part of that switch, longtime head Jim Lanzone said that he will step down next month and that Marc DeBevoise will become the chief executive of CBS Interactive, which includes the CBS All Access streaming service. DeBevoise also will oversee Viacom’s digital initiatives, a consolidation that hints at the company’s greater ambitions in the streaming space.


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