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Spike guy takes hike

Net likes Herzog as Hecht heads out

HOLLYWOOD — Spike TV president Albie Hecht announced Sunday he is ankling his post as head of the men’s cabler.

While Hecht is credited with bringing in solid performer “MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge” and establishing “The Video Game Awards,” cabler has launched just one short-lived hit (“The Joe Schmo Show”) and a botched animated block, and it remains in negotiations to save its WWE wrestling franchise.

Insiders say Comedy Central president Doug Herzog is in line to replace Hecht and will add control of Spike to his portfolio.

Herzog, whose experience includes top jobs at Fox and USA Network, is an MTV veteran with close ties to MTV Networks chair-CEO Judy McGrath, whom he worked with at MTV during its first steps into nonmusic programming. There had been speculation last July that Herzog would be given control of the men’s network, which had made few inroads with its new brand and original programming.

Spike exec veepee Kevin Kay and senior VP Robert Friedman will remain at the cabler, which is in the middle of some restructuring: Two weeks ago, Spike program planning VP Jeff Goldberg exited amid talk of an overall restructuring for the ailing men’s network (which surprisingly has seen large numbers from the femme demo thanks to “CSI” repeats) .

Kids programmer

Hecht, formerly head of Nickelodeon film and television entertainment, is best known for his achievements as a kids programmer. He developed Nick staples “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Fairly OddParents” and “Blue’s Clues,” and he created and exec produced the annual kudocast “The Kids Choice Awards.”

In a statement, Hecht said: “I feel immensely satisfied in the job that I have done, and I’ve told Herb and the company that I will do everything to make this transition as smooth as possible.”

“As Spike TV’s first president, Albie Hecht led the effort to create the first network for men. He’s a talented producer and executive who will be missed,” said Herb Scannell, who is president of Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, Spike TV, TV Land, Noggin and the N. “Albie has accomplished much as a producer in film and television, and we’re beginning discussions about how he might continue working with our company in those capacities.”

Spike, which rebranded from TNN a year and a half ago, ended the year on a high note, up 14% in overall auds, thanks to the ratings boost provided by stripped episodes of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Hecht most recently snapped up rights to “CSI: NY” for $1.9 million per episode.

Modest ratings

Spike’s latest slate of original reality shows have performed modestly. New shows from Maloof brothers and LivePlanet are in the pipeline, as well as an animated series from Howard Stern.

Should Herzog assume control of Spike, it’s not clear if he will report to both McGrath and Scannell. Herzog now reports directly to McGrath.

At Nick, Hecht also developed and exec produced “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.” He also supervised the creation of Nick’s first TV animation studio in Los Angeles and first digital animation studio in New York.