Susanne Daniels named MTV programming chief

MTV has tapped Susanne Daniels, a former top executive at Lifetime and the now-defunct WB Network, as its new president of programming.

Daniels succeeds David Janollari, who had held the top programming position at MTV for the last two years. MTV said Janollari left on his own accord.

In Daniels, MTV gets a programmer who has a strong track record in finding shows aimed at teens and young adults. Among the shows Daniels championed in her WB days were the dramas “Dawson’s Creek,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Charmed.” At Lifetime, Daniels was instrumental in the development of its hits “Army Wives” and “Drop Dead Diva.”

She most recently was consulting for OWN, the cable channel started by Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications.


“Susanne’s delivered more breakthrough pop culture hits in one decade than most producers do in their entire lifetimes,” said Van Toffler, president of MTV Music and Logo Group, the Viacom unit that houses the cable network. Daniels will report to Toffler and MTV President Stephen Friedman.

Daniels’ specialty is teen-angst drama, while MTV has found its biggest successes in recent years in over-the-top reality shows such as “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant,” and, of course, “The Real World.”

But some of those shows are getting a little long in the tooth and “Jersey Shore” is in its last season. The cult hit about a group of young mostly Italian Americans who live for the gym, clubs and spray tans has spawned one spinoff -- “Snooki and JWoww.” However, that show has failed to capture the magic of “Jersey Shore.”

MTV has had some success with traditional sitcoms including “Teen Wolf.” However, none of the cable channel’s scripted efforts have captured the cultural zeitgeist the way the cable network’s reality fare has.

Janollari joined MTV in 2010 to oversee an expansion into scripted programming. One of the network’s biggest gambles was a remake of the British hit “Skins,” about a group of promiscuous and hard-partying teens. MTV’s version of “Skins” got a lot of attention from media watchdogs who thought it went too far in terms of content but did not attract a large audience and was canceled after one season.

Other shows shepherded by Janollari included “Awkward” and “I Just Want My Pants Back.’” Prior to MTV, Janollari had successful stints as an independent producer as well as an executive with Warner Bros. Television.

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.


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