Surprise exit for MTV's Norman

Network president wants 'to explore something new'

MTV president Christina Norman is stepping down from her post after 17 years at the company.

Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music and Logo Group, sent an internal memo to staffers Thursday letting them know of Norman's decision "to take the time to explore something new."

Norman is set to leave MTV at the end of the month. There was no word on her replacement, though Toffler will take over day-to-day responsibilities in the interim.

News of Norman's move came as a shock inside MTV, where execs typically exit trailing a cloud of rumors predicting their departure. As a well-regarded figure at the company, network insiders were betting that it was more likely she found a new opportunity outside the company than was ousted, especially given the fact that the network currently is in good shape.

Internal speculation seized on the possibility that Norman could be headed to a top post in Discovery Communications' new joint venture with Oprah Winfrey, dubbed OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. As a black woman with cable savvy and a well-stocked Rolodex, she could be considered a natural choice. Discovery declined comment.

That same job was allegedly coveted by top reality agent Michael Camacho, who was dismissed by CAA this week only to end up at UTA (HR 2/7).

Norman was named president in 2005 after serving in the same role at corporate sibling VH1. She joined the company in 1991 as a production manager at MTV, working her way up the ranks to oversee the network's on- and off-air promotions and affiliate marketing departments before joining VH1 in 2002 as GM and being named president two years later.

At MTV, Norman oversees business development, research, marketing, communications, finance and human resources, and also is responsible for MTV2; mtvU, MTV's college service; MTV Tr3s, the service for young Hispanic-Americans; digital networks MTV Hits and MTV Jams; and and MTV Mobile.

Toffler credited Norman with boosting the network's ratings, finding new ways to work with advertisers, launching the socially conscious social network ThinkMTV, re-energizing the network's music initiatives with ideas like new-band spotlight show "52 Bands" and reinventing the Video Music Awards and MTV Movie Awards.

Over the years, Norman also played a key role in the launches of MTV2 and VH1's "Celebreality" programming and "Hip Hop Honors" awards show and was responsible for the shortform visual packaging and design of MTV, including the launch and branding of the long-running "10 Spot" programming block.

"It pains me to see Christina go, but I respect her decision," Toffler wrote, adding that "she will always be part of the legend and success of our company. We will miss her, and I personally can't wait to see what incredible feat she will conquer next with the same class and tenacity she has exemplified during her many years here."

Since becoming president of MTV, Norman was a fixture on The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Power 100 list and also was named to THR's Black Power List.

Andrew Wallenstein contributed to this report.