MTV Head of Originals Michael Klein Out After 6 Months

Michael Klein PUBLICITY - H 2016
Courtesy of MTV

MTV's senior leadership team is losing another new-ish member.

Head of originals Michael Klein is stepping down from his post after a six-month run. The former Conde Nast executive's departure was announced Monday via an internal memo from new MTV president Chris McCarthy (read that below). Klein's replacement is expected to be announced as early as Tuesday.

The news comes a month after MTV president Sean Atkins stepped down after a year in his post. He has since been replaced by VH1 and Logo president McCarthy, who will now oversee all three of the Viacom networks.  

Klein took over for Susanne Daniels after the executive exited for YouTube in July. He oversaw all of MTV's original programming — scripted and unscripted — as well as development and creative across MTV and its related brands. 

Klein came to MTV from Conde Nast, where he served as executive vp programming and content strategy for its digital channels. His credits there included ID's Vanity Fair Confidential, Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Man v. Food and TLC's What Not to Wear and Miami Ink.

Klein is the latest executive departure at MTV, which in 2015 saw president of programming Daniels exit for a similar post at YouTube and MTV Networks Music and Logo Group president Van Toffler leave in February of that year after a 28-year run at the company. MTV reality head Lauren Dolgen also left just four months ago after a 19-year run at the network.

Since McCarthy took over MTV, he has been busy cleaning house and slashing unscripted programming which he feels no longer fits the cable network's brand. Gone are unscripted series Down to Earth, Prison High, Acting Out, Almost Impossible Game Show and Air Sex as well as Stupid Man, Smart Phone.

The news comes as MTV has seen its viewership dwindle in an era where nabbing the elusive millennial viewer has become one of the bigger challenges in a changing TV landscape where live tune-in is no longer considered the norm. 

McCarthy's internal memo to staff about Klein's departure follows: 

Hi everyone,

Hope you had a restful Thanksgiving break. I wanted to let you know that Michael Klein has decided to leave the company. We’ve been discussing his role these past few weeks, and it’s clear he signed on to the job under different circumstances to pursue a different strategy. I understand and respect his decision, and the work the development team has done in the past year. I want to thank Michael for helping me get up to speed, and for his efforts on behalf of MTV.

Many thanks to the development team for its continued hard work, commitment and creativity in the meantime. We’ll have news to share soon about new leadership for programming and development. I’m confident that together we’ll continue to break new ground, connect with our young audience, and elevate our brand.

 For the moment, please join me in thanking Michael and wishing him the best of luck.