1:36pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
BET Programming President, Head of Originals Exiting Amid Latest Viacom Shake-Up
There's yet another change in the executive ranks at one of Viacom's core networks.
BET president of programming Stephen Hill and executive vp and head of original programming Zola Mashariki are exiting the network, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Connie Orlando, senior vp specials, music programming and news, will take over as interim head of programming at BET.
BET CEO Debra Lee announced the transition to staff Wednesday afternoon.
The executive shake-up comes as a surprise, given that Viacom CEO Bob Bakish identified BET as one of its six "core brands" as part of his plan to rejuvenate the media conglomerate. (The others being Nick, Nick Jr., Comedy Central, MTV and Paramount Network, with the latter set to rebrand from Spike TV in January.)
BET had been on an upswing under Hill, who replaced Loretha Jones in December 2014. The cable network has had a string of ratings hits including its New Edition biopic as well as Madiba, Real Husbands of Hollywood and Being Mary Jane, the latter of which saw its creators/showrunners depart for an overall deal with Warner Bros. Television.
Within the past two years, Viacom has seen Doug Herzog, formerly president of the music and entertainment group, exit as well as top execs at MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and TV Land.
Read Lee and Hill's memos, both below: