Norman's OWN: Network taps ex-MTV chief

Oprah Winfrey's net targeting late 2009, early 2010 launch

NEW YORK -- When she left MTV Networks a year ago, Christina Norman was anything but ready to go back into the TV business.

There were other family and personal priorities. But now, exactly a year after departing Viacom, she's set to take the reins of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, which will take to cable late this year or early next year.

"My story mirrors the mission and goals of this network, living your best life," Norman told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday after word of her appointment was made official by the owners, Winfrey's Harpo and Discovery Communications.

She said that she felt lucky that when she was ready to get back into the business, the position as CEO of OWN had opened up.

Norman, a nearly two-decade veteran of MTV Networks, has been president of both MTV and VH1. She will be based in Los Angeles and report to the OWN board of directors and lead a team that also includes Robin Schwartz, president of OWN Television, and Robert Tercek, president of digital media at Norman worked with Tercek years ago at MTV Networks.

"There are tons of ideas that are in development, and we'll knot those together into an experience that is going to be compelling for our audience," Norman said. "This is so needed right now."

Norman said OWN will have a television "evolution" that will include some familiar faces to Oprah's audience but also some other newer types of content and newer faces.

"I think you'll see formats that you're used to like scripted programming, alternative programming, talk show formats, magazine show formats, made-for-television movies, documentaries," she said. She also said there would be some acquisitions that would be right for the audience.

But she sidestepped a question about whether it would include "Oprah" if and when it leaves syndication.

"I've always had the utmost admiration and respect for Christina's innovative strategies and management style," Winfrey said in a statement. "She is a proven leader. Her shared values, passion, and enthusiasm make her a natural fit for OWN's emerging platforms."

"She is a great fit for OWN," Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said.

Norman worked for 17 years at MTV Networks, becoming president in 2005 after a run as president of VH1 before that. She began at MTV in 1991 as a production manager for promotional spots and rose through the ranks.