MTV lost one of its most durable franchises in July when the host of “Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘N Out” host and producer was embroiled in controversy over anti-Semitic he remarks made on an unrelated podcast.
But the show may not be down for the count too long. Chris McCarthy, president of ViacomCBS’ Entertainment and Youth Group which includes MTV, was the architect of reviving the improv comedy competition series once before on MTV2. In 2016, when he took on MTV, “Wild ‘N Out” moved back on to MTV where it had blossomed as a digital hit and a live event franchise — until Cannon’s comments torpedoed that momentum.
ViacomCBS was quick to sever ties with Cannon after he asserted on his “Cannon’s Class” podcast that Black people are “the true Hebrews” and made other offensive comments. Cannon, the host of Fox’s “The Masked Singer,” has apologized and acknowledged the significance of his mistake. He’s been on a public listening tour with prominent rabbis and other Jewish leaders to gain deeper understanding of history and why his comments were both wrong and hurtful.
McCarthy would not comment on whether “Wild ‘N Out” will be back on MTV’s air anytime soon. But the two camps have definitely been in close contact since the break in July.
“We continue to follow Nick’s journey and I’m impressed by how he’s owned his mistakes,” McCarthy told Variety. “He’s been an extended part of our family for almost 20 years and a personal friend of mine for almost half that. He’s leading by example, apologized and trying to learn to understand and help others do the same. That’s the kind of partner we want to work with.”
During his previous tenure as head of MTV2, McCarthy demonstrated his faith in Cannon and the “Wild ‘N Out” franchise, which began on MTV in 2005. The show went dormant, but over time McCarthy worked with Cannon and Michael Goldman, the comedian’s producing partner and manager, for more than a year to downscale the budget to make the show affordable for MTV2.
“He believed in the show and saw it working on MTV2,” Goldman says. “Chris really has an ability to understand youth culture and how viewing habits are so different these days. He saw ‘Wild ’N Out’ and saw the potential for these short clips to become viral content.”
McCarthy’s history with Cannon made it that much harder to hastily end the relationship amid the storm of controversy that also cost Cannon his planned syndicated daytime talk show launch with Debmar Mercury, at least for this.
But the personal relationship was not severed. McCarthy has kept in touch and a raprochmaont looks promising now that Cannon has acknowledged his hurtful mistake and embarked on a public education effort with prominent rabbis and Jewish leaders.
“Chris knows who Nick is as a person,” Goldman says. “I trust him to get us there.”