6:45am PT by Lesley Goldberg
The 14 Biggest TV Executive Departures of 2018
The TV executive suites changed a lot in 2018, with three of the Big Four broadcast networks making major changes as Viacom continued to part ways with some longest-tenured cable veterans. Of course, the biggest headline of the year was Leslie Moonves, who was forced out as CEO of CBS Corp. following multiple allegations misconduct, including sexual harassment.
Below, The Hollywood Reporter looks at 14 of the biggest executive changes in the TV industry and the reasons behind them.
Easily the biggest TV story of the year, Moonves was forced out as CBS Corp. CEO after the New Yorker's Ronan Farrow detailed numerous allegations of nonconsensual sexual misconduct against one of the industry's biggest executives. Moonves exited in September and is now embroiled in an investigation as CBS weighs whether it had cause to fire him and deny him a $120 million severance package. Moonves was one of the highest-paid and most respected executives in the industry. CBS COO Joe Ianniello is serving as interim CEO.
The co-chairman and co-president of the Disney Media Networks division will depart after the Fox merger is complete, and Fox's Peter Rice will take over his responsibilities as the head of all of Disney's TV operations (excluding ESPN). Disney CEO Bob Iger attempted to keep Sherwood in the fold with an unscripted position within the expanded company, but after Comcast edged out Fox for Sky News, there was no room for the former ABC News president and Good Morning America exec producer.
Peter Rice and Dana Walden and Gary Newman
The 21st Century Fox president, Rice, and Fox TV Group chairman, Dana Walden, will move to Disney once the Fox acquisition has been completed. They will each assume control over a portfolio previously managed by Disney’s outgoing TV honcho, Sherwood, though Rice's collection of assets will be considerably greater post-merger. As chairman of Walt Disney TV and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, Rice oversees all of Disney's TV efforts, save ESPN. That includes ABC, ABC Studios, ABC Owned Television Stations Group, Disney Channels Worldwide, Freeform, 20th Century Fox TV, FX Networks, FX Productions, Fox 21 TV Studios and National Geographic channels. Walden, meanwhile, will serve as chairman of Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment and will continue to oversee 20th Century Fox TV and ABC Studios. Walden's move ended her longtime partnership with Gary Newman, as the duo together ran Fox's broadcast network and studio. Newman, meanwhile, had been in negotiations to remain atop the so-called New Fox broadcast network but was ultimately replaced by AMC's Charlie Collier.
Collier left his perch as president of basic cable network AMC (home of broad hits like The Walking Dead and critical favorites including Better Call Saul) to serve as CEO of Entertainment at Fox. In October, he was hired to replace Fox Broadcasting Co. chairman and CEO Newman, who had been in talks to stay with the soon-to-be independent broadcast network. Collier will remain based in New York and take on a bicoastal role with Fox. (AMC, meanwhile, centralized its leadership team and divided Collier's duties among current execs, including former Fox entertainment president David Madden.)
Rather than report to former rival Walden, Dungey stepped down as ABC Entertainment president after holding the post since 2016. Dungey, who became the first black woman to lead a major U.S. TV network, helped usher in an era of inclusive programming while also reviving — and canceling — Roseanne. Her decision to fire Roseanne Barr following the star's racist tweet garnered international attention — a rarity for a network executive. Freeform head of originals Karey Burke was promoted to replace Dungey. (Freeform has yet to announce Burke's replacement.)
After nearly eight years as NBC Entertainment president, Greenblatt stunned the industry in September with his decision to step down from the post shortly after inking a contract extension. Greenblatt, who was replaced by Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, departed as the rare broadcast network executive to go out on top.
He was hired away from AMC in May 2017; Stillerman's former position as Hulu content chief was eliminated as part of a larger company restructuring under CEO Randy Freer (who joined the streamer in October 2017). Hulu's content team now focuses on content partnerships and original programming. Two other senior execs departed as part of the reshuffling, which impacted the content, technology and product teams, marketing group as well as data and analytics divisions.
The longtime champion and executive most associated with BET stepped down from her post as CEO and chairman of the Viacom-owned cable network in May. The writing was on the wall for Lee, who ceded day-to-day oversight of the African-American-focused cable network last December with Scott M. Mills taking over as president. She was not replaced. Lee, who first joined BET in 1986, became the latest veteran executive to be pushed out at Viacom, as CEO Bob Bakish trims costs as part of a larger plan to reposition the media conglomerate.
Kay had quite a 2018. Viacom's Bakish selected Kay, a two-decade Viacom employee, to lead Spike TV's rebranding as general entertainment destination Paramount Network. After launching in January, Paramount Network's first year was a rocky one as few originals outside of Yellowstone were able to connect with viewers. Kay was pushed out in October as Bakish further consolidated Viacom's media networks from five brands to four. As part of the downsizing, Comedy Central president Kent Alterman expanded his oversight to include Paramount Network and TV Land — both of which were overseen by Kay.
Following a more than three-decade tenure with Viacom, Nickelodeon Group president Zarghami was shown the door in June. That came months after Viacom Media Networks COO Sarah Levy was brought in to co-run Nickelodeon alongside Zarghami — who had been head of the kids-focused cable network since 2006. For months later, Brian Robbins — the co-founder of AwesomenessTV — was handed oversight of Nickelodeon after heading Paramount Players for Bakish.
TV veteran Dubuc in March stepped down from her post as president and CEO of A+E Networks after a nearly two-decade run overseeing cable networks including Lifetime and History. Amid rumors that she could replace Roy Price at Amazon, Dubuc instead was tapped to run Vice Media as CEO. She took the reins from the embattled Shane Smith as the new-media company — which includes a cable channel with A+E Networks — was embroiled in allegations of sexual harassment and pay inequity.
Logan will exit the cable network at year's end for a post as president of content at the World Surf League. Logan took over as OWN president in May 2016 after former counterpart Sheri Salata departed. Logan will be replaced by Tina Perry, who will serve as general manager of OWN. Perry was instrumental in bringing top talent to OWN, including Ava DuVernay with Queen Sugar and the Akils' Love Is.