Tony DiSanto exits top job at MTV

Forming new production company with Ben Silverman

MTV programming president Tony DiSanto is leaving the network after more than 20 years.

He and his top programming executive, Liz Gateley, are departing to form a production company backed by Ben Silverman's Electus.

Scripted programming head David Janollari is expected to take DiSanto's place.

DiSanto helped MTV rebound with such reality fare as "Jersey Shore" and "Teen Mom," with the network set to go wider into scripted programming with such series as "Skins" and "Teen Wolf." The executive first joined MTV as an intern in 1989.

Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music and Logo Group, said DiSanto's departure has been in the works for the past year. DiSanto has been continuing at the network these past months, Toffler said, after he requested that DiSanto stay on to help set the network up for its ongoing programming "reinvention," which includes adding scripted and animated shows as well as boosting its reality stable.

"We've built such a great team of people underneath Tony and are having so much success right now, with three quarters of ratings growth," Toffler said.

He expressed confidence that DiSanto's programming acumen will continue serving the network as a producer.

"We'll have a continuing relationship with Tony," he said. "He'll provide programming for us moving forward."

Gateley, who is senior vp series development, is credited with being the driving force behind the ultra-stylized crop of reality series that rejuvenated MTV as far back as 2004, beginning with "Laguna Beach." That series begat several spinoffs including "The Hills" and "The City" that made stars out of unknown teenagers like Lauren Conrad, who recently announced that she is returning to the network for a new series.

Toffler said he's "pretty sure" Janollari will stay on, with a formal announcement expected in the next couple of weeks. Janollari and other MTV executives will be elevated as DiSanto and Gateley exit.

Since joining MTV in July as executive vp scripted development, Janollari has begun adding scripted series including "The Hard Times of RJ Berger" to a primetime schedule previously composed entirely of reality shows. He has a strong track record in the genre, having produced scripted series in previous stints at the WB Network and Warner Bros. TV as well as at Greenblatt/Janollari, his joint shingle with Robert Greenblatt, whose credits include "Six Feet Under" and the CBS miniseries "Elvis."

Since leaving the top programming job at NBC in July, Silverman formed Electus with backing from Barry Diller's IAC. The digital media company, which concentrates on TV and multiplatform programming, already announced a deal with MTV for an interactive telenovela complete with brand integration, another Silverman specialty.
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