Nickelodeon President Russell Hicks Stepping Down After 18 Years at Network

Russell Hicks
Courtesy of Nickelodeon

UPDATED: June 8 with the internal memo sent around Nickelodeon, regarding Hicks’ departure.

Nickelodeon president Russell Hicks is departing the Viacom-owned kids’ network, after 18 years with the cabler, Variety has confirmed.

“Russell Hicks has decided to step down from his position effective immediately,” a Nickelodeon spokesperson confirmed to Variety on Tuesday evening.

There are no plans to replace him at this time.

Hicks’ exit was announced internally Wednesday morning with a memo sent around to Nickelodeon staff from Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and Viacom Media Networks Kids & Family Group. (See the full memo below.)

 

Hicks was named president in 2012. Prior, he was the net’s chief creative officer. As president of content development and production for the Nickelodeon Group, he oversaw development for live-action and animation, plus production teams for all of Nickelodeon’s channels, which include Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Nick Jr., TeenNick and Nicktoons.

Before joining Nickelodeon, Hicks was vice president of marketing at Cartoon Network/Turner brands.

Hicks’ departure — first reported by Deadline — is one of many high-up executive exits at Viacom recently, following shakeups at MTV, VH1, TV Land and most recently, Comedy Central.

Here is the full memo regarding Hicks’ departure:

I wanted to share with you the news that Russell Hicks has decided to step down from his position at Nickelodeon. 

For the last 18 years, Russell has been an incredible creative partner not just to me, but to our entire organization, first as Chief Creative Officer, but especially during these last four years, in which he served as our President of Content Development and Production.

Though it is hard to have to say good-bye to someone who has been such a fixture at the company, and a friend, this transition comes at a time when the Nickelodeon brand truly is in a position of strength.

Since moving to the West Coast in 2012, Russell expertly shepherded our terrific development and creative teams to some of our greatest creative successes. Our content pipeline at the moment is the most full and varied it has ever been.  Our relationships with the creative community have never been as deep as they are today. And we have a schedule of hits, in every genre, across all of our platforms. 

All of our great work has put us back at number one–with preschoolers, with kids 2-11, and as of the end of May, with kids 6-11 once again. In fact, our just-launched show, The Loud House, which originated from our shorts program, is already the top animated kids’ show on TV, joining SpongeBob and Alvinnn! to lock up the overall top three.

The current temporary structure for our teams will remain in place while we regroup and formulate the right plan for going forward.

I hope you will join me in wishing Russell all the best and thanking him for his immeasurable contributions to Nickelodeon; I know we will miss him.  I could not be more proud of all of you and all the great work at Nickelodeon right now.

–Cyma

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  1. J says:

    So disappointing. Russell was a creative genius and an absolute pleasure to work with. He was so kind and thoughtful in his dealings with everyone from interns to artists to top execs. This is a huge loss for the Nick Animation Studio and Nick in general.

  2. Eric Robles says:

    Russell Hicks was a huge supporter of creator driven content at Nick. He was defiantly known for saying “yes” to creative ideas, projects and reinvigorating the studios moral. As an insider I know we will continue what he started as the Nickelodeon creative team gears up to produce and distribute some really great projects in the coming years. All the best Russell and thank you!

  3. anonymous says:

    Nickelodeon is a dead network anyways. My kids never watch it and are instead either watching Disney or they’re ipods.

    • Lori says:

      Your focus group of one doesn’t reflect the national ratings. Disney is down nearly 20%. Nick is up.

      • Jim says:

        …or a few months ago. Loud House is the #1 animated show on cable, and the 6 or so live action shows dominate the top 10.

      • Wally says:

        The ratings are up because of Alvin and the Chipmunks, which is a pickup from a third party. Nick had nothing to do with its creation, development, or ownership. Nickelodeon studios hasn’t produced a new hit in a long time.

  4. Angie says:

    I remember when Nick used to make new animated shows instead of reruns. Maybe with a new building and a new boss they will get down to creating new characters and worlds, unless Phillippe wins the boardroom battle, then there won’t be any spare change after his bonus to get that done.

    • Jim says:

      Check out The Loud House on Nick. It’s the highest rated animated show in cable, and it’s brand new.

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