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CMT is gearing up for a bigger push into scripted programming.
Shaleen Desai has been tapped to serve in the newly created role of vp, scripted programming at the Viacom-owned cable network, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
In the role, Desai will oversee the continued growth and success of scripted programming at CMT. His duties will include working with the creative community to generate ideas for new programming concepts and characters, as well as developing and overseeing all aspects of scripted production. Desai will be based in Los Angeles and report to CMT evp, development and programming Jayson Dinsmore.
“Shaleen is equal parts creative and strategist; bringing diverse pedigree to the brand,” said Dinsmore. “He’s a welcome addition to our growing development team and will play a critical role in positioning CMT as a home for premium scripted programming.”
Desai comes to CMT from Jason Bateman’s Aggregate Films banner, where he served as evp, television and oversaw the shingle’s first look deal with Universal Television. Before that, he served as svp, Fishbowl Worldwide Media, vp, programming at BBC Worldwide and was one of the founding executives of fox21. He also worked for David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants, serving as a producer on The Late, Late Show.
The appointment comes in the midst of CMT’s big push into scripted programming, fueled by the success of the recently renewed Billy Ray Cyrus comedy Still the King and the upcoming network premiere of Nashville in January after a four-year run on ABC. CMT also has the limited series Million Dollar Quartet (working title) that chronicles the rise to fame of of a young Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, among others. The cabler is also recently ordered a pilot for a new soap, His Wives and Daughters, and is developing a TV adaptation of the movie Varsity Blues.
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