The ripple effect from the Viacom-CBS merger — and the network realignment and executive shakeup that accompanied it — continues.
The company’s Entertainment & Youth division, run by Chris McCarthy, has promoted two senior scripted executives, Comedy Central Co-head of Original Content Sarah Babineau, as well as President of Development and Production for Paramount Network and TV Land Keith Cox, while Comedy Central’s Co-Head of Original Content Jonas Larsen has stepped down.
The Entertainment & Youth unit is comprised by VH1, MTV, CMT, Comedy Central, TV Land, Paramount Network, Logo, Smithsonian Channel — and as of yesterday Pop TV, previously controlled by CBS. Brad Schwartz remains President of Pop, reporting to McCarthy. Tom Hayden also continues as President of the Smithsonian Channel.
The division was originally formed in November when McCarthy 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. As part of the consolidation Kent Alterman stepped down as President, Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land.
The elevation of two of Alterman’s top lieutenants, Babineau and Cox, stems from his departure. The duo bring extensive scripted experience to the table, joining McCarthy’s top programming executive on the unscripted side across the portfolio, Nina L. Diaz. (In his role as Comedy Central’s co-head of original content, departing Larsen oversaw primarily unscripted programming)
The executive reshuffling was announced today by McCarthy in an internal note to staff. You can read it full at the bottom of the story.
In the memo, McCarthy praised Larsen as “one of Comedy Central’s key architects having built many brand-defining franchises and hit tentpoles – from the “Comedy Central Roasts” to the Peabody-winning D.L. Hughley: The Endangered List” and, most recently Lights Out with David Spade and the acclaimed scripted series South Side.”
Babineau has been promoted to Head of Comedy Central Content & Creative Enterprises. She will oversee 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.
Cox has been named President of Entertainment & Youth Studios, where he will be charged with leading growth in third party content development, as well as oversee all scripted series for ViacomCBS brands and studios, excluding Comedy Central. In addition, Cox will continue to lead long-form scripted series on the Paramount Network.
On the studio side, Cox will be responsible for MTV Studios, Smithsonian Channel Studios, CMT Studios and Pop Studios, excluding CC Productions which is under Babineau’s purview.
Projects currently in development include the reimagined Awkward series Still Awkward, live-action Aeon Flux, and scripted series My Super Sweet 16, all at MTV Studios, among others. Cox and Paramount Network’s current scripted slate include the No. 1 summer series Yellowstone, which returns for its third season in June, 68 Whiskey, from Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine TV Studios and CBS TV Studios, Sony TV’s Coyote starring Michael Chiklis, which launches this summer and the upcoming Mayor of Kingstown.
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 upcoming Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, starring recent 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.
Cox has steered original programming for TV Land for over a decade. He added Paramount Network programming oversight in 2017.
Prior to joining TV Land, Cox held the post of EVP Comedy and Alternative Development at the WB, where he oversaw all of the network’s half-hour and reality development of such series as Ashton Kutcher’s Beauty and the Geek and 51 Minds’ The Surreal Life. Earlier, he worked at Greenblatt/Janollari as VP Comedy and Drama Development, and he was part of the team that developed Six Feet Under and The Hughleys.
Here is McCarthy’s email in full:
As we move forward as one combined Entertainment & Youth Group, I feel very optimistic and confident in our shared future.
Looking ahead, we are building a leadership team that maximizes our full potential. At the same time, we are providing specialized leadership at the brand level where there are opportunities to super-serve unique communities and at the new business level to expedite our growth in streaming and studio sales.
To that end, I am excited to announce the following:
Sarah Babineau – has been promoted to Head of Comedy Central Content & Creative Enterprises. In this new role, Sarah will oversee 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. In addition, Sarah will serve as our lead for the comedy creative community.
Keith Cox – will serve in the newly created role of President of Entertainment & Youth Studios where he will super-charge our growth in third party content development, overseeing all scripted series for our brands and studios (with the exception of Comedy Central). In addition, Keith will continue to lead long-form scripted series on the Paramount Network.
Tom Hayden – will continue as President of the Smithsonian Channel which celebrates our shared history through award-winning content.
Brad Schwartz – will continue as President of Pop TV which has built an impressive brand with lots of buzz, big shows and bold characters.
Please join me in congratulating Sarah and Keith on their new and expanded roles and welcoming Brad, Tom and their teams.
Finally, I’d like to thank Jonas Larsen, Co-Head of Original Content at Comedy Central, who will be exiting the organization. Jonas is one of Comedy Central’s key architects having built many brand-defining franchises and hit tentpoles – from the “Comedy Central Roasts” to the Peabody-winning “D.L. Hughley: The Endangered List” and, most recently “Lights Out with David Spade” and the acclaimed scripted series “South Side.” He led the charge for CC’s events, helming the Emmy®-nominated “Key & Peele” Super Bowl special, as well as the immersive event “Clusterfest.” We would like to thank him for his leadership and his many lasting contributions, including an amazing West Coast creative team.