Well-liked vet TV exec now president of programming
Susanne Daniels is relishing adolescence again.
Having programmed the WB with series for teenage girls such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Felicity” and “Gilmore Girls,” Daniels will now have a chance to revisit her youth as the new president of MTV.
She replaces David Janollari, who was head of programming. Janollari, who joined the network in 2010 as its scripted fare topper, had been rumored to be departing the cabler when his contract expires in 2013. He and the network agreed not to renew the deal.
At the former WB network, Daniels was president of programming before Janollari eventually became network topper there, replacing Jordan Levin.
The hiring of Daniels — a seasoned and extremely well-liked TV vet who was most recently consulting for OWN — was greeted with great cheer in the Viacom cabler’s Santa Monica and New York offices.
Daniels is based in Santa Monica and reports to Van Toffler, president of MTV Music & Logo Group, and MTV prexy Stephen Friedman.
“I grew up watching and loving MTV,” Daniels said. “It’s remained a dynamic, young and meaningful brand. I’m excited to be a part of it and work with Stephen and Van, two people whom I’ve admired for a long time.”
Chris Linn, who is head of production and the go-to exec for many reality series, specifically “Jersey Shore” and its offshoots, will now report to Daniels, Toffler and Friedman. He previously reported only to Toffler and Friedman.
Daniels, whose expertise lies in scripted programming, was hired by the WB in 1994 as head of primetime series and eventually rose to president of entertainment. Under her watch, the weblet generated hits including “Buffy the “Dawson’s Creek,” “Felicity,” “Angel” and “Smallville.”
“I love that I’m getting this opportunity to program for teens again,” Daniels told Variety. “I loved doing it for the WB.”
Following her tenure at the WB, Daniels shifted to ABC before landing on the cable side as president of Lifetime.
One of her challenges at MTV will be to bring more female viewers to the net. “Awkward” and “Teen Wolf” draw a strong femme audience, and the cabler wants to grow that demo. Net has also seen its award show business slump in the last year.
As for her top priorities, Daniels said: “At the end of the day, what will help MTV is finding hit shows. I’ve been lucky to work with great people during my career and some really talented writer-producers like J.J. Abrams and Kevin Williamson. That is something I love and look forward to again.”
Daniels, along with Linn, will need to find a way to replace the phenomenon that was “Jersey Shore,” currently in its final season. Spinoff “Snooki & JWoww” is coming back for a second season but “The Pauly D Project” is not likely to return after listless ratings in its freshman season.
Much of Daniels’ career has been spent in the scripted space but has definite preferences when it comes to reality shows.
“While I get a kick out of ‘Jersey Shore,’ I much more lean toward reality shows that have a balance of entertainment and some role modeling,” she said, citing “Teen Mom” as an example.
Net has high hopes for “Catfish,” about those who yearn to gain more insight about their online-only relationships. Series, which is based on the bigscreen docu and premiered Monday, has attracted good buzz.
In third-quarter ratings, MTV fell a whopping 46% in the 18-34 demo and dropped 38% in overall viewers vs. a year ago. From July-September, cabler was averaging 861,000 viewers in primetime.
Janollari, who had long focused on scripted fare and heavily relied on Linn for reality, was buoyed by the success of “Awkward” and “Teen Wolf” but failed to see Doug Liman’s “I Just Want My Pants Back” move beyond one season. U.K. import “Skins” also lasted only one season, with advertisers quickly withdrawing their support because of racy content.
It’s unclear whether Janollari, who was an exec producer on HBO hit “Six Feet Under,” will return to producing or try to connect with another network.