EXCLUSIVE: Another top Comedy Central executive is exiting in the fallout from the ViacomCBS merger. Sarah Babineau, Head of Comedy Central Content & Creative Enterprises, will be departing the company at the end of the year. The news comes two months after she was promoted to the high-level creative post within ViacomCBS’ Entertainment & Youth unit.
I hear she is among a slew of executives that are being let go at the network whose scripted team has been gutted, according to sources. It is part of post-ViacomCBS merger layoffs that are currently happening across the Entertainment & Youth unit, with Pop and the Smithsonian Channel also reportedly hit hard, and MTV and Lego also impacted, I hear. Noone would comment but a number floated around indicates about 100 people may have been affected. UPDATE: I hear Comedy Central departures include Monika Zielinska, SVP, Original Programming and Development, West Coast; Anne Harris, SVP, Talent and Development, Tara Schuster, VP, Talent & Development, Christian McLaughlin, SVP Talent and Development and Daniel Wolfberg, Senior Manager, Talent & Development. At MTV, Mala Chapple, SVP Content Strategy, Operations and Media Partnerships, is among those leaving.
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As part of the post-merger integration at the new Entertainment & Youth division, run by Chris McCarthy, there will be a further consolidation of top creative executives under Nina L. Diaz, President of Content and Chief Creative Officer for the entire group, I have learned.
President of Entertainment & Youth Studios Keith Cox, who was promoted alongside Babineau in January, will oversee scripted development and scripted studio production across the portfolio, I hear. Pop’s Head Original Programming and Development Justin Rosenblatt will straddle scripted and unscripted with focus on comedic content. Further integration of other teams across the networks, including talent, is expected, triggering layoffs.
The merger-related executive changes at Comedy Central started in November when the network’s longtime leader, Kent Alterman, stepped down as President, Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land. That was when ViacomCBS’ Entertainment & Youth division was formed under McCarthy, who added Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel and TV Land and their respective content studios to his existing portfolio of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo Media. (He has since also taken over Pop TV). The unit has been divided into four groups, music (MTV, VH1, CMT & Logo), entertainment (Comedy Central, Paramount Network TV Line), with Pop and the Smithsonian Channel as standalone entiries.
In January, Comedy Central Co-head of Original Content Babineau was named to the top programming post at the network in a restructuring, which saw fellow Comedy Central’s Co-Head of Original Content Jonas Larsen step down.
In her current role, Babineau oversees all creative content and talent development for Comedy Central, including shows, CC Films, projects from Comedy Central Productions for third parties, tent-poles, games and ancillary businesses.
Babineau quickly rose through ranks since joining Comedy Central in 2014. She is credited as the creative behind the brands’ most recent and biggest successes including the relaunch of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City, The Other Two and the network’s newest breakout hit, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, starring Golden Globe winner Awkwafina.
Prior to joining Comedy Central, Babineau was development and programming executive at Amazon Studios helping launch Amazon’s foray into original comedy including Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle.
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