ViacomCBS Shuffle: Kent Alterman Exits, Says He “Grateful” For Time At Comedy Central; Jim Gianopulos Remains; Chris McCarthy, David Nevins Gain Turf – Update

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2ND UPDATE with confirmation and Bob Bakish statement: Viacom and CBS has officially confirmed the wide-ranging content shake-up across its ranks that will see Comedy Central veteran Kent Alterman leaving the fold and MTV Networks boss Chris McCarthy and CBS Chief Creative Officer David Nevins  adding to their turf.

As expected, Jim Gianopulos remains as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, which includes oversight of Paramount Animation, Paramount Features, Paramount Players and Paramount TV.

ViacomCBS will be one of the largest premium content creators in the world, with the capacity to produce content for both our own platforms and for others,” said Bob Bakish, President and Chief Executive Officer, Viacom, who will serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of ViacomCBS upon the close of the companies’ merger next month. “This talented team of content leaders will work together to ensure we realize the full power of our brands, our deep relationships with the creative community and our intellectual property to drive our growth as a combined company.”

“Our content scale will support our streaming strategy, which will build on the rapidly scaling advertising and subscription-based products we already have in the market,” Bakish said. “The executives we announced today bring complementary and deep experience in both subscription and ad-supported streaming businesses, and will work together to create a differentiated streaming ecosystem in the market.”

UPDATED with memo from Kent Alterman: Upon Sunday’s news of Kent Alterman exiting his post at Comedy Central, he sent out a memo to his colleagues giving thanks for his time as president of the cable network and how his exit fills him with “deep sadness and intense joy simultaneously.” Read his memo below.

Dear Treasured Colleagues,

Some of the most inventive fiction I’ve read comes in the form of farewell emails, so I’ll resist the temptation to be creative and try to be factual and brief. I apologize in advance if I’m not able to deliver on that.

As you have likely heard, I’m leaving my position as head of the Entertainment group. I’m not going to brag about all we’ve accomplished together (another temptation resisted). Instead, I will tell you how grateful I am. We were given a rare opportunity to create and maintain our own culture within the confines of an ever-changing and challenging corporate environment. While some might call me delusional, I contend that our ethos is defined by passion, respect, strong points of view, collaboration and kindness to each other. Dare I call it soulful? Maybe I just did.

We don’t give lip service to these things – we live them. On a daily basis. When I was offered the position of President of Comedy Central a few years ago, I was honestly not sure I wanted to accept. I worried it would take me too far away from the creative process, which is what attracted me to this business in the first place. Instead of fretting about that, I decided to embrace the opportunity and really lean into the leadership aspects of the job. I have been continually stunned by how deeply fulfilling leading this group has been for me. I’ve made smart bets on talented people who always make me appear to be smarter than I am. Together, we have shaped an organization that fills me with immense pride.

I don’t want to turn this into a name-checking email – if you don’t personally know how appreciative I am, then I have failed and I’m sorry. Thank you for being such a stellar group of humans. Thank you for letting me be myself. You have allowed me to take a strong stand on things, for right or wrong. More importantly, you have also allowed me to be transparent about the things I don’t know without feeling diminished or compromised.

I remind you that everything we do is driven by the talent with whom we work. I am forever grateful to all the artists who have chosen to trust us, especially with so many options available in the marketplace. This is something I never take for granted, and I urge you not to either. No matter how risky or uncertain our jobs can feel (and believe me, I’m in touch with that right now), please remember we are dependent on talent, and they are always in a more vulnerable position than we are.

As disruption and cataclysmic change have become the norm in our business, I remind you that change creates anxiety, but it also creates opportunity. How you respond to uncertainty has the potential to help you grow and make you stronger. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Please continue to act in good faith with your colleagues and collaborators. This is what allows you to assume the same in them, fostering trust and a spirit of being in it together.

I’ve been so fortunate to work with all of you and be the steward of great brands. We have managed to create real meaning and relevance in Comedy Central, and Paramount Network is emerging in such an exciting way. These brands are the North Star of everything we do, and I hope their essence will continue to guide you moving forward.

Addressing an email to “Comedy Central_ALL, Paramount Network_ALL and TVLand_All” for the last time fills me with deep sadness and intense joy simultaneously. Or, put another way, the richness of being alive. Being in it with you these past years has been a privilege and honor. I will always be in your debt. If I can repay you along the way, I am always available to be helpful in any way I can.

With love, respect and appreciation, I remain,

Yours truly,


PREVIOUSLY: Just before closing their long-anticipated merger, Viacom and CBS are shaking up their TV executive ranks, according to insiders familiar with the moves.

Comedy Central veteran Kent Alterman is leaving the fold when the merger closes in the coming weeks. MTV Networks boss Chris McCarthy and CBS Chief Creative Officer David Nevins are among those adding to their turf.

McCarthy has steered Logo and progressively gained oversight of VH1, MTV and CMT, sparking ratings turnarounds and helping Viacom see its first quarterly ad-sales gains in years. He will become president of entertainment and youth brands. That will give Comedy Central, TV Land and Paramount Network to him, as well as Smithsonian Channel, which is owned by CBS. He will continue to report to CEO Bob Bakish.

Alterman, who spent two decades in various roles at Viacom, made his biggest mark at Comedy Central, where he shepherded defining hits like Key & Peele and Inside Amy Schumer. Along with Alterman, another 20-year Viacom veteran, Sarah Levy, is departing. The COO of Viacom’s Media Networks group, which includes U.S. cable networks and international, won’t be replaced.

Nevins, who got a big promotion a year ago from CEO of Showtime to a much broader role across CBS overseeing the broadcast network, Pop and Showtime, will now look after Viacom’s BET. Scott Mills will remain the head of BET, reporting to Nevins.

After the reshuffling, Tom Ryan will continue to run Pluto, reporting to Bakish. He had previously reported to Viacom CFO Wade Davis, whose departure post-close had already been confirmed.

Kelly Day will remain atop Viacom Digital Studios, which will now fall under the auspices of CBS Interactive chief Marc DeBevoise.

Nickelodeon chief Brian Robbins, who founded AwesomenessTV, which Viacom acquired in 2018, is adding oversight of youth brand while continuing to lead Nick. He will now have the title of President, Kid & Family Entertainment.

The moves were first announced in the Wall Street Journal and are expected to be formally announced Monday.

Both CBS and Viacom are reporting their quarterly earnings next week, their last presentations to Wall Street as separate companies.

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