MTV, VH1 Scripted Head Maggie Malina Exits

A new structure for the Chris McCarthy-led Viacom networks has yet to be determined.
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Maggie Malina

A year after being promoted to oversee scripted programming at MTV and VH1, Maggie Malina is exiting the Viacom-owned cable networks, effective immediately.

The news was announced Wednesday via a pair of internal memos from MTV, VH1 and Logo president Chris McCarthy and GM Amy Doyle, and from Malina. (Read both, below.)

Malina was promoted in February 2017 to executive vp and head of scripted following Mina Lefevre's move to run originals at Facebook. After McCarthy added oversight of MTV, the exec merged scripted and unscripted departments for both MTV and VH1 in a bid to streamline the development process. Nina L. Diaz oversees unscripted for both Viacom networks. A new executive structure has yet to be determined as Malina will pursue new endeavors.

Malina leaves MTV (and VH1) as scripted has become less of a priority under McCarthy, who has revived Jersey Shore with the original cast, Total Request Live and Fear Factor, among other unscripted pushes. The cabler's scripted slate includes the forthcoming retooled Scream — now an anthology with a new cast — and development on a War of the Worlds reboot, while also looking to revive Teen Wolf after its series finale last year.

Last July, McCarthy explained his new approach for scripted programming on MTV in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. His plan is to have a scripted tentpole air ever quarter, be it a TV movie, miniseries or ongoing drama/anthology.

"MTV is in a great space on the unscripted side and we have the ability to take our time picking stories," he said. "I'd like to have one scripted event a quarter but if we don't get there, I won't beat ourselves up next year."

Other scripted projects in development are a four-hour Faith Evans miniseries and comedic drama Calabasas from Queen Latifah. MTV has not aired anything on the scripted front since Teen Wolf — its first hourlong scripted series — wrapped its run in September. Many industry observers expected the cabler to exit the scripted space last year after McCarthy canceled three rookie shows, including little-seen critical darling Sweet/Viciousand saw The Shannara Chronicles move to Spike as part of Viacom's realignment. (Shannara has since been canceled at Spike turned Paramount Network.) MTV, like other Viacom brands, has been actively regrouping as part of the media conglomerate's plan to reinvigorate its brands and bottom line under CEO Bob Bakish.

"No question we will primarily be more in the unscripted space," McCarthy said in July. "That is who we are. As content evolves, we want to be able to tell stories and flex our own storytelling muscles in a way that unscripted might not be able to do. So the idea of doing that once a quarter [with scripted] feels like it's right. If they were doing gangbuster, I still don't know that we would really do more than one a quarter because to do that we would be stripping our own DNA, which is telling stories and being in the live and in the unscripted space."

A premiere date for Scream has yet to be determined.

Here is McCarthy and Doyle's joint memo:

Hi Everyone,

We have some news to share about our good friend Maggie Malina. Maggie has decided to step away from her role as Head of Scripted Programming for MTV and VH1 to start a new chapter.

Her tenure has been punctuated by some incredible moments across both networks that elevated our brands and delivered ratings successes.

Maggie is a creative force who has championed diversity in front of and behind the camera. 

She cast Beyoncé in her first role with "MTV's Hip Hopera: Carmen," oversaw one of cable’s biggest original movies "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story," and hired an all female directing staff for the first season of "Hit The Floor." And, let’s not forget the top rated "Single Ladies" and critically acclaimed series "The Breaks."

Ever the professional, we greatly appreciate her shepherding the relaunch of "Scream" to its completion.

On a personal note, we’ll miss her intense passion and infectious laugh.  

More to come shortly on a new structure, but today we want to thank Maggie for her significant contributions to both brands.

–Chris and Amy

Here is Malina's memo:

Hi there,

Working at MTV and VH1 has been an amazing experience. Every day, I have been inspired by the creativity of my colleagues and the company's commitment to push boundaries, discover new talent, and deliver programming that truly spoke to its diverse and evolving audiences.   

It’s time for new adventures, but I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to make films and series that combined pop culture and social issues in unique and indelible ways.  

Thank you to Chris and Amy, the Scripted Programming team, and everyone else I had the privilege to both work with and call friends.  

All the best,