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Kent Alterman: Cable honcho comes home after feature fling

Comedy Impact Report 2010: Tube Titans

Comedy Central programming head Kent Alterman returned to the network in January and, during the past year, has watched the channel enjoy record ratings and, thanks to October’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, unprecedented cultural impact.

Alterman is enjoying the exposure, though he’s not exactly taking credit for the extraordinary success.

“Even though I have nothing to do with our pre-existing shows like ‘The Daily Show,’ ‘Colbert Report’ and ‘South Park,’ it must be no accident that our ratings are now soaring,” Alterman jokes, dryly. “That’s how effective I am.”

Alterman had previously run Comedy Central’s New York development office, leaving in 2001 to develop, produce and, in the case of the 2008 Will Ferrell comedy “Semi-Pro,” direct feature films, primarily for New Line.

Returning to television offers a refreshing change, Alterman says, noting the medium’s faster turnaround speed in development. Comedy Central has three new shows premiering early next year, including a half-hour scripted sports comedy from The Onion.

“To me, everything is driven by talent,” Alterman says. “I try to associate myself with really smart, funny people and help them realize their vision. Impact doesn’t come from the power you hold, but the way you deal with people.”

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