VH1 Announces New and Expanded Roles for Creative Team Responsible for Over Five Years of Record-Breaking Programming
Jeff Olde Promoted to Executive Vice President, Original Programming &
Production; Ben Zurier Elevated to Executive Vice President, Program
Strategy, VH1, VH1 Classic and MHD
Michael Hirschorn and VH1 Announce an Exclusive First-Look Deal with His
New Company Ish Entertainment
VH1 Greenlights Three New Series Including Reality Competition Series with
NEW YORK, Jan. 17 -- MTV Networks Music Group President of
Entertainment Brian Graden and VH1 Executive Vice President and General
Manager Tom Calderone are announcing familiar faces in new and expanded
roles at VH1, affirming the team that has lead the channel to 22
consecutive quarters of growth.
Under Graden and his team's guidance, VH1's primetime ratings have
increased 102% since 2002 when the network successfully expanded its focus
to celebrate the music, pop culture and pop culture icons beloved by a
Jeff Olde Promoted to EVP, Original Programming & Production
As part of this re-engineering, Jeff Olde has been promoted to
Executive Vice President, Original Programming & Production at VH1. In his
new role, Jeff Olde will oversee all current VH1 original programming and
development for both of the East and West coasts as well as music series
development and celebrity talent development.
Since Graden and team brought "The Surreal Life" and the 51 Minds
production team behind it to VH1, Olde has shepherded the extremely
successful long-term relationship that has yielded numerous hits including
"Rock Of Love," "I Love New York," "Flavor of Love," "Charm School" and
"America's Most Smartest Model."
As Senior Vice President, Production & Programming at VH1, Olde also
oversaw the development and production of such hit series as "Breaking
Bonaduce," "Scott Baio Is 45...And Single" and "Celebrity Rehab With Dr.
Drew." Prior to coming to VH1, Olde won a Peabody Award as creator and
executive producer for MTV's "BIORhythm." His TV production company,
Olde/Gladstone Productions, had numerous projects with a wide array of
clients including MTV, Lifetime and Disney.
"Jeff's repeated ability to hit the television bull's-eye is easily
explained and incredibly rare -- He's a master at unlocking the unique
conceptual core of each project. He understands that people like Scott
Baio, Irv Gotti and 'New York' all have very different stories to tell and
yet his emotionally organic, revealing storytelling is essential to all of
them," said Graden. "He has earned an outstanding reputation as a
thoughtful and direct champion of talent as well as the producer's
point-of-view. VH1 is in great hands and we look forward to the ride with
Ben Zurier Upped to EVP, Program Strategy, VH1, VH1 Classic & MHD
In addition, Ben Zurier has been elevated to Executive Vice President,
Program Strategy, VH1, VH1 Classic and MHD: Music High-Definition Channel,
MTV Networks' music-centric high-definition channel. Since joining VH1 in
2001, Zurier has overseen the programming strategy that has driven the
network to its strongest ratings ever. His responsibilities extend to
multiple screens as he manages VH1's video-on-demand offerings and
coordinates how content is deployed across VH1 Digital's various wireless
and non-linear platforms. He also oversees programming for two fast-growing
digital cable networks: VH1 Classic and MHD, MTV Networks' music-centric
high-definition television service. In addition, he negotiates program
acquisitions for VH1, VH1 Classic and MHD.
"He has authored breakthrough deals on a vast array of programming,
creating a successful model for off-net reality series like "America's Next
Top Model" and unearthing acclaimed documentaries like "Seven Ages of
Rock", and movies ranging from "Woodstock" to "8 Mile."
Early in his television career, Zurier participated in the start-up of
The Comedy Channel, which evolved into Comedy Central. While there, he rose
to Vice President, Development and Acquisitions, executing acquisitions of
key series such as "Absolutely Fabulous." In 1997, Zurier joined CBS
Television Stations as Vice President of Programming and Research. He
subsequently worked at Rainbow Media developing the groundbreaking
subscription video-on- demand package MagRack.
"Ben is one smart programmer. If you love VH1's Celebreality Sundays
and Mondays, then you know Ben can sense America's mood, find the through
lines and ultimately connect with the audience," said Graden. "Ben deserves
immense credit for VH1's explosive ratings growth having overseen a widely
acknowledged and highly unusual five-year hot streak, and we're thrilled to
acknowledge his invaluable leadership."
In addition, Michael Hirschorn is stepping down from his duties as EVP
of VH1's programming department to form Ish Entertainment, a new
entertainment company that will marry formats and talent, focusing
primarily but not exclusively on non-scripted programming. The company
launches with a commitment to three series under an exclusive first-look
deal with MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo.
"Collectively, the VH1 programming development team's achievements have
been nothing less than phenomenal. 2007 was VH1's best year ever -- 14
original VH1 series and events averaged at least one million total viewers
during their runs," said Calderone. "All of these talented executives are
at the top of their game and are primed to deliver even more hits in 2008."
VH1's programming development team also includes Jim Ackerman, Alex
Demyanenko, Jill Holmes, Maggie Malina and Shelly Tatro. Upcoming shows in
2008 created by Olde and this deep bench of talent who will report to him
-- "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew"
-- The improv comedy series "Free Radio"
-- New episodes of the hit series "The Salt-N-Pepa Show" and a 2nd
season of "Gotti's Way"
-- The return of Scott Baio, Bret Michaels and Flavor Flav with "Scott
Baio Is 46...And Pregnant," "Rock Of Love 2," and "Flavor Of Love 3"
-- "egotrip's Miss Rap Supreme," "Celebrity Fit Club 6," "My Fair
-- "Viva Hollywood"
-- "I Know My Kid's A Star"
"I couldn't ask to work with a more dedicated and talented team to
continue the VH1 story. Jim, Jill, Maggie, Shelly and Alex consistently
create and develop shows with a distinct vision and a passion that our
viewers recognize and appreciate," said Olde. "We've all been working
together on the next big shows for VH1 in 2008 with our outstanding outside
producer partners and we are excited to share them with our viewers."
In development news, VH1 has given the greenlight to three new projects.
-- VH1 has partnered with P.Diddy on a reality competition series that
will search the country for someone who has the smarts and stamina to
be the hip hop mogul's assistant. The series is slated to premiere
in Summer 2008.
-- "egotrip's Miss Rap Supreme" -- VH1 has once again teamed up with
ego trip for a brand new series that follows on the heels of the
hugely successful "ego trip's The (White) Rapper Show" series. "ego
trip's Miss Rap Supreme" puts a distaff twist on the
South Bronx-based series that challenged contestants' musical "cred,"
knowledge of hip hop culture and their ideas about race. Ten female
contestants from across the country will live in a house in Los
Angeles where their quick-witted rhymes, stage presence and their
mental toughness will be put to the test in this 8 episode series.
Rap legend Michael "MC Serch" Berrin (of the group 3rd Bass) returns
with a new partner, Grammy Award-nominated rapper Yo-Yo. Set to
premiere in April 2008.
-- "Celebracadabra" -- Seven TV and film stars vie for the title of
"Best Celebrity Magician" when they gather at the Magic Castle in Los
Angeles, the world's most famous club for magicians, and attempt to
learn and perform tricks normally left to the professionals. Guided
by veteran magicians, the competitors face tough crowds and a master
panel of judges who determine which celebrities get to advance to the
next round and a shot at a grand prize. Executive producers are
Michael Hirschorn, Shelly Tatro, Karla Hidalgo and Chris Martin.
VH1 connects viewers to the music, artists and pop culture that matter
to them most with TV series, specials, live events, exclusive online
content and public affairs initiatives. VH1 is available in 90 million
households in the U.S. VH1 also has an array of digital channels and
services including VH1Classic, VH1 Soul, VH1 Mobile, VH1Games and extensive
broadband video on VH1.com. Connect with VH1 at VH1.com.
About MTV Networks
MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is one of the
world's leading creators of programming and content across all media
platforms. MTV Networks, with more than 140 channels worldwide, owns and
operates the following television programming services -- MTV: MUSIC
TELEVISION, MTV2, VH1, mtvU, NICKELODEON, NICK at NITE, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV
LAND, SPIKE TV, CMT, NOGGIN/THE N, VH1 CLASSIC, MTVN INTERNATIONAL and THE
DIGITAL SUITE FROM MTV NETWORKS, a package of 13 digital services, all of
these networks trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks connects with its
audiences through its robust consumer products businesses and its more than
300 interactive properties worldwide, including online, broadband, wireless
and interactive television services and also has licensing agreements,
joint ventures, and syndication deals whereby all of its programming
services can be seen worldwide.