MTV's Tappon joins 495 to help it get more real

New development boss for producer

Upstart reality production house 495 has hired senior MTV programming executive Drew Tappon as its head of development.

The announcement was made by 495 president Sally Ann Salsano, who worked with Tappon when developing her MTV hit "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila."

"Drew and I share the same style, drive and vision to create innovative reality programming for network and cable television," she said. "From late nights working in the editing bays, and from him being available 24/7, I just love him. And between the two of us, we pretty much have business relationships everywhere."

Tappon had been with MTV Networks since 1996 and most recently served as senior vp original programming and series development. He has overseen several of the network's reality successes, such as "The Real World," "Road Rules," "Next" and "Date My Mom."

Salsano said Tappon's first order of business will be to take in-house pitches around to the network community, where his experience on the other side of the development desk should prove valuable.

"He truly knows the ropes, and you get a little bit of a cheat sheet, where he can also help me see things from the other side," she said.

Executive in charge of production James Bianco has also been bumped to head of production.

In two years, Salsano's company has rapidly grown to 190 employees while producing "Nashville Star," "Tequila," HGTV's top-rated show "Design Star," Style Network's "The Big Party Plan-Off" and two "Tequila" spinoffs.

Salsano's credits also include several seasons of ABC's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette."

Her company took off last year when MTV debuted "Tequila," a bisexual reality dating show where straight men and lesbian women compete for the affections of model Tila Nguyen, best known by her Tila Tequila stage name. The first season's December finale was seen by 6.2 million viewers, making it MTV's most-watched series telecast of all time.

The network quickly ordered two spinoffs, "That's Amore" and "More Amore," which debut March 2.

"For me, it's all about passion projects," Salsano said. "I only make shows that I love. I live in the control room. The day I stop loving TV is the day I stop doing it."