EXCLUSIVE: Following Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s recent unveiling of his turnaround strategy for Viacom, which included the transformation of Spike into a general entertainment network rebranded as The Paramount Network, the company has zeroed in on Keith Cox to lead development and production for the revamped channel.
I have learned that Cox, currently President of development and production for TV Land, will be promoted to President of development and production for The Paramount Network and TV Land. He will oversee development for the new Paramount Network, one of the six flagship networks under Viacom’s plan, which has been designated as the leading brand for scripted programming in the Viacom Global Entertainment Group. Cox’s promotion follows the Viacom restructuring earlier this month, in which TV Land and CMT, now labeled “reinforcing” brands, were put under Spike President Kevin Kay, along with Spike.
Meanwhile, I hear that Spike’s longtime head of programming, EVP Original Series Sharon Levy, has decided to leave the network. During her 11-year tenure at Spike, she oversaw the development and launch of such unscripted hits as the Ink Master franchise, Lip Sync Battle, Bar Rescue, Catch A Contractor, and oversaw Spike’s foray into scripted programming with miniseries Tut and its first original scripted series, the upcoming The Mist.
Spike declined comment.
In a Feb. 9 internal memo, Kay addresses the transition into The Paramount Network, which will take place over the next year with a tentative launch scheduled for early 2018. The network “focus will be on building distinctive, high-quality scripted and non-scripted original programming – with dramas, comedies, documentaries, movies, sports and tentpole events,” he wrote.
This is the second promotion in six months for Cox, who was upped from EVP development and original programming to President of development and production for TV Land last September.
Pulling away from multi-camera sitcoms, Cox oversaw TV Land’s foray into edgier single-camera original fare, which has resulted in the breakout hits Younger and Teachers, which has been posting series highs in its current second season. There are several new original scripted comedy series on deck, including a Heathers reboot and the Melissa McCarthy-produced Nobodies, already renewed for a second season.
Prior to joining TV Land, Cox served as EVP, Comedy and Alternative Development at WBTV, where he oversaw all of the network’s half-hour and reality development.