10:57am PT by Lesley Goldberg
It's Official: Sharon Levy Sets Spike Exit Amid Paramount Network Rebranding
It's official: Spike TV's Sharon Levy is exiting the Viacom-owned cable network amid its planned rebranding as the Paramount Network.
Levy, Spike's longtime exec vp originals, outlined her exit in a memo to staff Tuesday with Spike TV president Kevin Kay, in his own note to staff, thanking her for her dedicated service.
TV Land president of development and production Keith Cox is expected to be tapped to lead development at the rebranded network. A formal announcement is expected to come Tuesday. Cox would serve as president of development and production at the Paramount Network as well as TV Land.
His promotion arrives after Viacom CEO Bob Bakish identified six core Viacom units as part of the company's turnaround plan: Paramount, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. The Paramount Network has been zeroed in on as the hub for scripted originals among the Viacom Global Entertainment Group, which includes Cox's TV Land as well as niche Viacom brand CMT. Spike president Kevin Kay was recently handed oversight of both TV Land and CMT as part of his charge of the group.
Here's Kay's memo, followed by Levy's.
I want to let you know that Sharon Levy has decided to step down from her role as Executive Vice President of Original Series for Spike.
For the last 12 years, Sharon has been a big part of the Spike family. As head of development, she has been instrumental in the success and maturation of the Spike brand through the years – from a male-focused network to the big, bold and broad entertainment destination it is today.
Under her watch, she introduced the world to the lovable and occasionally bombastic Jon Taffer, she made competitive tattooing a TV sensation, she oversaw the most compelling story ever made about the legendary Egyptian king Tut, and most recently, she oversaw the development of Stephen King’s “The Mist” and joined forces with Jay Z and Harvey Weinstein to tell the story of an innocent 16 year-old wronged by the criminal justice system.
But above everything else, she has always been a great partner, teammate, and friend to me and to the entire staff and she will be missed.
On behalf of everyone at Spike, I can say we are so incredibly thankful for everything she has accomplished at Spike and for her unmatched enthusiasm, passion, and love for brand – and its team members.
We know that wherever her next adventure takes her, she will always be The One To Watch!
Dear Team Spike –
As the winds of change blow through our hallways, bringing excitement for what will come, it is also the perfect time for me to do a little soul searching.
I have reached a very hard decision which is to answer the call of the wild and leave Spike to pursue other opportunities.
The network has been a great life adventure, bringing me from deserts of Morocco to the remote countryside of Nova Scotia and everywhere in between. From enduring an intensely hot and humid August day in Manhattan to shoot the pilot of Ink Master to trudging through five feet of snow to meet Jay Z on the red carpet at Sundance, it certainly has been a wild ride. I have collaborated with every type of artist our medium shares, from writers, actors, producers, directors, documentarians, comedians and animators. And somehow it never felt like work and that is all because of you. Please keep this place special and continue to be kind to one another, no matter what the future throws at you. It has always been the underdog spirit that has made Spike one of the greatest places to be, and carrying that torch is on each of you.
I want to thank Kevin Kay for ten years of partnership, his faith and bravery, and most importantly his sense of humor. We have been together more than most marriages and that is truly impressive. I would not even have had this opportunity to lead development and programming for all these years if it hadn’t been for my mentor and dear friend, Doug Herzog, a world class leader who continues to inspire in all ways, especially his current Instagram feed.
And now the hard part, the inner circle. I have been the luckiest girl in the world to come in to the office every day and be partners with an amazing team. Chachi, Ted, Hayley, Lauren, Tori, Justin, Chaz, Erin, Ryan, Todd and Danielle. You have calmed me down on turbulent flights, picked every restaurant I have eaten at in the last two years, showed me how to bargain shop, introduced me to the world of cool sneakers, and that’s just a Tuesday. We have made some great TV together, and some less so, but we have always pushed and supported each other to be the best we could be and did it while laughing, a lot. I will miss you, but our connections are deeper than the place we call work. My greatest gift from Spike has been this group of people I will call friends forever.
There are so many great things to come for you all, and I will be here for the next couple of weeks helping keep the trains on the tracks and gearing up for the exciting launch of my personal favorite project, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story.” I will always root for Team Spike, and am excited to see all the amazing accomplishments you create together over the next year. Go big or go home.