The move is part of centralizing the development teams for the three Viacom networks that in February were put under the purview of Kevin Kay — Spike (soon-to-be Paramount Network), TV Land and CMT. In the first step, Keith Cox, then-President of Development & Production for TV Land, was made President of Development & Production for Paramount Network and TV Land, with Spike’s longtime head of programming, Sharon Levy, leaving. Now CMT’s development also is being added to Cox’s portfolio. Following Dinsmore’s departure, his team will report to Cox.
The transition, just announced internally by new CMT General Manager Tanki, won’t be abrupt as Cox, a Kentucky native who, as Tanki put it will be “returning to his roots” with the CMT oversight, already had been informally leading CMT’s development efforts since June.
At CMT, Dinsmore spearheaded the effort to save Nashville by bringing it to the network where the country music drama has been breaking ratings records. He also developed and launched such hits as scripted comedy Still the King and the unscripted Broken Skull Challenge, Party Down South and I Love Kellie Pickler.
In his memo, Tanki, praised Dinsmore’s love for the CMT brand and his “tremendous contributions” to the network, which has been on a ratings upswing with nine consecutive months of growth and is on target to log its best fiscal year since 2014.
“Looking to the future, our goal is to build upon this success to position Paramount, CMT and TV Land as the preeminent destinations for adult viewers,” Tanki wrote. ” To succeed, we will need to create a unified voice while also maintaining each brand’s unique personality and attributes. By streamlining these development teams, we’ll be able to explore multi-brand talent development and first-look deals, while creating one focal point for the creative community.” (you can read his entire memo below)
At least for the time being, the focus at CMT will be on bolstering its unscripted slate, with more scripted development, which is a lot more expensive, a possibility down the road. (As part of its most recent restructuring, Viacom designated Paramount Network as the group’s flagship brand for scripted series.)
In addition to developing and launching a number of scripted (the list also includes rock ‘n’ roll drama Sun Records) and unscripted series, during his tenure Dinsmore launched a documentary division that has generated such well received titles as Urban Cowboy: The Rise of Fall of Gilley’s, Johnny Cash: American Rebel, The Bandit and Chicken People.
A seasoned media executive, Dinsmore came to CMT after spending over a decade at NBC in several capacities including SVP Alternative Development.
“CMT is an amazing and important place. Music is your heart and soul, but more importantly you are a true family,” Dinsmore said in his farewell to staff. (you can read it in its entirety below).
During his six years and seven months at CMT, Dinsmore worked under several Viacom regimes. In his note, he thanked his “mentors,” longtime CMT president Brian Philips, who departed in June when Tanki added the network to his GM duties at TV Land, Van Toffler and Cyma Zarghami who oversaw CMT over different periods before the early 2017 restructuring that put Kay in charge of it.
Here is Tanki’s internal memo:
Team- I have an update on the development front. We’re taking the next steps in centralizing the development teams for Paramount, CMT and TV Land under Keith Cox, President of Development. As part of this transition, Jayson Dinsmore will step down as CMT’s head of development.
Kevin and I want to commend Jayson for his tremendous contributions. During his seven-year tenure, he helped evolve CMT from a music video channel to a fully realized brand. In our short time working together, I’ve come to quickly admire his creative energy and instincts, as well as his love for CMT and every one of you. He embodies the spirit of the channel and we will build upon his strong legacy by continuing to create memorable stories and characters that showcase the best attributes of our audience.
Jayson leaves us in fantastic shape. Thanks to all of your hard work, CMT is rounding out its best fiscal year since 2014. We’re currently at 9 months of consecutive ratings growth and are finishing a strong quarter. In total day, we’re up 15 % percent with adults and a stellar 20% with women.
Looking to the future, our goal is to build upon this success to position Paramount, CMT and TV Land as the preeminent destinations for adult viewers. To succeed, we will need to create a unified voice while also maintaining each brand’s unique personality and attributes. By streamlining these development teams, we’ll be able to explore multi-brand talent development and first-look deals, while creating one focal point for the creative community. We’ll also be able to work more closely with marketing and ad sales to find creative synergies and opportunities at the group and brand levels.
CMT has a strong and proven development team that will now report directly into Keith, who has been leading the charge for CMT since June. A Kentucky native, he’s returning to his roots as he immerses himself in the brand with the goal of building upon our success to further capitalize on the new and growing fan-base we cultivated this year. We’re actively fast-tracking several projects and will announce new programming in the coming months.
I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Keith this year over at TV Land. He’s smart, highly creative, loves his teams and above all else, creating bold stories and characters. I look forward to bringing him to Nashville soon to meet each and every one of you.
Thank you, Jayson, and thanks to each of you for your unwavering hard work and support as we build toward a strong future.
And here is Dinsmore’s note:
One of my biggest dreams came true by being given the opportunity to work alongside each and every one of you.
Together, we saved “Nashville,” witnessed mind-blowing music events, produced critically acclaimed documentaries, introduced the birth of rock ‘n’ roll to a new generation, revived the mullet (or rather tried to), broke some skulls and did more than our share of “Partying Down South.”
CMT is an amazing and important place. Music is your heart and soul, but more importantly you are a true family.
Thanks to my incredible team in LA and Nashville. You’ve pushed me creatively and made me a better person.
Nashville has become my home-away-from-home. I will miss the frequent flyer miles, but most importantly, walking the halls and laughing with each of you.
I’ve had the privilege to learn from legendary creative forces…Brian, Van and Cyma. I am lucky to count this crew as mentors… and thankful to call them my friends. And call I will!
I’ve really enjoyed my time with Kevin, Frank and Keith, who’ve been great partners and strong advocates for the brand. I know they will continue to work closely with Suzanne, Anthony, Kurt and Leslie to build a great future.
I’ll be cheering you on. Thank you for allowing me to crash your party for 7 crazy beautiful years.
Much love – Jayson