MTV shuffles its exec pod

New roles for cabler's Norman, Calderone

More changes are afoot in Judy McGrath’s MTV Networks cable coop: VH1 president Christina Norman is being tapped to run MTV, while MTV exec veep Tom Calderone is set to take the helm of VH1.

MTV is expected to announce today the promotion of Norman, a 14-year MTV Networks vet, to president of MTV, succeeding Van Toffler, who was elevated to MTV Networks Group president in October.

Calderone, head of MTV’s music/talent division, will replace Norman. He emerges from a group of candidates that is said to have included Tom Ascheim, exec VP-general manager of Nickelodeon’s digital suite, and John Shea, exec VP of integrated marketing and sponsorship development for the MTV Networks Music Group.

Both Norman and Calderone will report to New York-based Toffler.

Norman is credited, in partnership with MTV Networks Music Group programming prexy Brian Graden, with re-establishing VH1 as a competitive cabler. After the former regime ran the sprockets off its popular “Behind the Music” franchise, the pair stepped in and revived the channel with a new on-air look, a focus on pop culture nostalgia and a string of reality hits and specials that have put the cabler back in the buzz biz.

Handling biz ops

As head of MTV, Norman will oversee all the music network’s business operations and marketing and continue to work alongside Graden. MTV remains tops among its core aud of people 12-34 but recently took a ratings misstep with its latest batch of original series.

For the first quarter, MTV was down 6% in primetime viewership overall from the previous year. And in April, cabler’s 10 p.m. originals block, the 10 Spot, fell by double digits from last year. Meanwhile, skeins from Lizzie Grubman, Travis Barker and Cameron Diaz have yet to generate the same media hype as “Newlyweds” and “The Osbournes.”

Calderone, who has spent almost seven years at MTV/MTV2, will shift to VH1, where his responsibilities include shepherding the music net and developing entries for its digital spinoffs. That lineup already includes VH1 Classic, VH Uno, VH1 Country, VH1 Soul and VH1 Mega Hits. Latter, however, is being axed to make room for soon-to-launch gay network Logo.

An MTV spokeswoman declined comment on Calderone’s new title, but he’s expected to serve as exec VP-general manager of VH1.

VH1 is coming off of a stellar first quarter — cabler delivered an average 619,000 total viewers in primetime (up 19% vs. a year ago) — due in large part to the success of its Celebreality Sunday block, home to “Surreal Life,” spinoff “Strange Love” and “Celebrity Fit Club.”

Norman was promoted from exec VP-general manager to VH1 prexy in January 2002, filling a slot that had been left vacant for two years after the 2002 departure of John Sykes to Infinity Radio.

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