Nickelodeon shakeup continues; Paula Kaplan and Sal Maniaci out

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The management shake-up at Nickelodeon continued late Thursday, with the departures of two senior executives, Paula Kaplan and Sal Maniaci.

Kaplan, who has served as executive vice president of current TV series, told her team Thursday that she would be leaving the children’s network, according to people familiar with the matter.

A network spokesman confirmed Kaplan’s pending exit but would not elaborate. Kaplan’s departure was reported earlier Thursday.


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Late Thursday, Nickelodeon said that Maniaci -- who re-joined the Viacom Inc.-owned cable channel, his longtime home, nearly two years ago after a stint at sister outlet TV Land -- also was resigning.

Maniaci could not be reached late Thursday.

Since his 2012 return, Maniaci had been part of the New York-based group that developed original shows and coordinated live TV events, such as the “Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards,” and the “TeenNick HALO Awards.”

Maniaci had worked closely with Margie Cohn, who left Nickelodeon last summer in another management overhaul. Cohn quickly landed at DreamWorks Animation as that company’s head of television.

Cohn, Maniaci and Kaplan had been at Nickelodeon in the mid-1990s, and over the years helped develop such juggernaut hits as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “iCarly.”

Nickelodeon has been retooling its operations after a steep ratings plunge nearly two years ago, which saw Nickelodeon’s ratings fall nearly 30%.


The lucrative Viacom channel has been trying to develop a new generation of hits.

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Ratings for the channel have improved in recent quarters, although the Disney Channel ended 2013 as the top children’s network for a second year among viewers ages 2 to 11.

Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami has reshuffled the decks several times, most notably in the summer of 2012. The August 2012 shakeup forced out Nickelodeon’s animation chief Brown Johnson, the executive who was most responsible for creating the network’s cartoon sensation “Dora the Explorer.”

Zarghami then entrusted power to a longtime lieutenant, Russell Hicks, who became the top creative officer.

During the last year, Hicks, who serves as president of Nickelodeon content, development and production, has become more deeply involved in programming and West Coast operations.

Hicks has cultivated his own team of executives.

Kaplan formed the network’s Los Angeles talent department in 1996. She also helped grow the “Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards” into a marquee event.


Even First Lady Michelle Obama attended the “Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards” nearly two years ago with daughters Malia and Sasha. The first family got splattered with green slime intended for Justin Bieber.

“Sliming” people with green goo typically is the highlight of the children’s awards show.

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Management changes continue at Nickelodeon; Paula Kaplan leaving

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Twitter: @MegJamesLAT