MTV Reality Head Lauren Dolgen Exits

Lauren Dolgen
Andie Kallinger/MTV

"I think the best thing that could come out of this is we can't cast this show anymore."

Another high-level Viacom executive is exiting.

MTV head of reality programming Lauren Dolgen is departing the Viacom-owned cabler following a 19-year run at the network.

"As someone who’s been around Viacom for a good chunk of Lauren’s career, I was able watch it unfold with great deal of admiration," Viacom Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog wrote Tuesday in a memo to staff. "I just want to echo [MTV executive vp original content Michael Klein] and thank Lauren for her great work and enormous contributions to MTV. She has always been a fierce champion of the brand. Her fingerprints and great work are all over MTV and its original programming. I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know her over this past year. I'm excited to see what comes the next chapter brings."

Dolgen was promoted in 2015 when she expanded her role as West Coast head of reality, landing oversight of all unscripted programming. She was key in MTV's leadership following the departure of Susanne Daniels a year ago when she worked alongside scripted topper Mina Lefevre. Lefevre will remain on board at MTV. Dolgen's departure comes as MTV has rebuilt its executive ranks in the past year. Conde Nast exec Klein joined the cabler in March as head of programming and Discovery's Sean Atkins took over as president of the network in September following Stephen Friedman's departure. 

To hear Klein tell it, Dolgen was instrumental in creating MTV's massive unscripted slate, announced in April, that includes 11 series including a music competition show from The Voice's Mark Burnett. (Read his memo to staff, below.)

Dolgen becomes the latest executive to exit a Viacom network in the past few months. Nickelodeon president Russell Hicks departed earlier this month after an 18-year run as Comedy CentralTV LandVH1 and MTV all have undergone executive shake-ups within the past two years.

Here's Klein's memo to staff: 

"Lauren Dolgen, our Head of Reality Programming and owner of an incredible run of hits in her nearly 20-year career at MTV, is leaving the company. You can trace Lauren’s career in the history of the network over the past two decades, and as an exec she represents the best of the brand — smart, funny, irreverent, full of ideas, and an absolute junkie for culture and content. She’s been behind some of the most kinetic hits in MTV’s history, cutting her teeth on the seminal Jackass and then developing many of its spiritual successors — Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, Rob and Big, Viva La Bam, Wild Boyz and Buckwild. And, of course, Ridiculousness, which eight seasons in remains a strong pillar of our schedule. So many of those shows point to what MTV can and should do best — series that may not be specifically music, but have music, whether it’s skate punk or hip hop, clearly in their DNA. Her work in engineering the successful run of America’s Best Dance Crew; reinventing The Real World and launching Are You The One? speak to the versatility she’s brought to the brand. It’s a track record I admired long before I walked in the door.

And then there’s the 16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom franchise, an unequivocal cultural phenomenon spawned from Lauren’s simple idea to explore the challenges and triumphs of very young mothers. Teen Mom has been a top-five MTV series every year since it launched in 2009, and ratings aren’t even the most powerful measure of its impact. Studies have credited the franchise with driving up to one-third of the overall decline in teen pregnancy — a staggering statistic. Teen Mom alone puts Lauren in the hall of fame.

Lauren has been discussing the next chapter in her career with [MTV president] Sean [Atkins] for a few months now and I want to thank her for helping with the transition — and for her work in helping jumpstart the development pipeline. I look forward to digging in with the team and working to push this brand forward. 

I hope you’ll join me in thanking Lauren for her brilliant career with MTV and wishing her the very best of luck.