MTV is shaking up its top programming ranks for a second time in the last two years with the appointment of Susanne Daniels. Effective immediately, she replaces David Janollari. EVP Janollari, along with EVP MTV Production Chris Linn, were elevated two years ago to take take over the responsibilities of departing Tony DiSanto. Daniels is given DiSanto’s former title of president of programming vs. EVP for Janollari. She will oversee development and programming for the network, including scripted and reality series, news and documentaries, production and talent. She will be based in LA and report to MTV Music & Logo Group president Van Toffler and MTV president Stephen Friedman. Linn, who previously reported to Toffler and Friedman, will now report to Daniels, Toffler and Friedman.
Given her bigger title, it appears that Daniels will have more power than Janollari ever had. I hear he had been growing increasingly frustrated that many key decisions on the scripted shows he develops, including scheduling, were being made in New York largely without his input. Meanwhile, Viacom has been quietly recruiting executives for the top programming post. The process had been going on for awhile as Janollari informed MTV brass of his intention to leave at the end of his contract months ago. Janollari’s track record at MTV has been marked by some hits, like Awkward and Teen Wolf, and some misses, including the controversial Skins. His latest scripted entries, including The Inbetweeners and Craig Wright’s Underemployed, have failed to gain traction, due in part to scheduling. “David played an important role in advancing MTV’s leadership position the last few years — particularly in fortifying our scripted programming strategy with such hits as Teen Wolf and Awkward and the critically acclaimed I Just Want My Pants Back,” Friedman said. “We will always be grateful for his contributions and wish him the best.”
MTV had gone after Daniels twice before, most recently when DiSanto was leaving at the end of 2010, but at the time she only was looking to work part-time and wasn’t comfortable with the frequent travel to New York the position originally entailed. (The mother of three ultimately signed up for a consulting gig at Oprah Winfrey’s OWN last year.)
This is the second time Daniels and Janollari have been part of two consecutive regimes of the same network. Daniels was president/co-president of entertainment at the WB before stepping down in 2001 when co-president Jordan Levin took over the job solo. He was then replaced by Janollari in 2004. After taking four years off, Daniels did a three-year stint stint as president of entertainment for Lifetime, which she left in 2008. Another four years later, she is back in a top network programming position at MTV.
During her tenures at the WB and Lifetime, Daniels has overseen the development of such series as Gilmore Girls, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Dawson’s Creek and Smallville (WB) and Army Wives and Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime). “Susanne’s delivered more breakthrough pop culture hits in one decade than most producers do in their entire lifetimes”, Toffler said. “Very few people have the talent and instincts to consistently develop shows that connect with young audiences, but Susanne has thankfully kept in perfect touch with her juvenile side and we’re extremely lucky she will now be joining our restless, creative family here at MTV.”
After riding the Jersey Shore ratings tidal wave for the past couple of years, MTV has seen its ratings decline recently. In the most recent third quarter ratings, the cable network was down 46% year-to-year in its core 18-34 demographic and 38% in total viewers.