EXCLUSIVE: Nickelodeon‘s top programming executive Marjorie Cohn is leaving. I hear that she has opted to depart the kids cable network after a 26-year tenure. Following a series of promotions, Cohn, a very well liked TV executive, most recently served as President, Content Development, Nickelodeon. She added animation and digital to her existing portfolio of live-action programming last year, following the departure of Brown Johnson when Russell Hicks was elevated to President, Content Development and Production for the Nickelodeon Group. Cohn has shepherded some of Nick’s biggest hits, including Rugrats, iCarly and SpongeBob. In the wake of her departure, Cohn’s direct reports are now expected to report to Hicks as Nick’s programming efforts have been shifting from New York, where Cahn has been based, to Los Angeles, where Hicks is. UPDATE: In addition to Cohn, also departing is EVP Nickelodeon Prods. Alison Dexter as part of a restructuring that eliminates the position as the production groups will now report to the live-action and animation executives. Here is the internal Nick memo from Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTV Networks’ Kids & Family Group, outlining the changes:
Eight months ago, Russell Hicks took on his new role as our head of content development and production and relocated to Los Angeles. Since that time, we have focused our attention on serving the first generation of post-millennial viewers with exciting new content, introduced an innovative new brand experience through our App, and experienced new momentum in our ratings.
Also in that time, Russell has been evaluating our needs and our structure to ensure we are well-positioned to succeed now and in the future. He has injected new life and excitement into our animation studio, and has been developing new ways to attract the most creative people and give them the freedom to develop great content for all platforms.
Russell and Margie Cohn have spent the last few months creating an exciting development strategy and roadmap for our future. Today, more than ever, the west coast is the home base of our creative community and day-to-day headquarters for the majority of our productions, and after many years of service to Nickelodeon, Margie has made the decision to leave the company. Moving forward, all of Nickelodeon’s content executives will now report directly to Russell.
Margie has been with us since the very early days of Nickelodeon, working on shows from Double Dare and Rugrats, to All That! iCarly and SpongeBob, and just about everything in-between. I’ve been lucky to work with Margie for many years. She has been a passionate advocate for our brand, our creative partners, her team and our audience. She loves to make kids laugh, and leaves a rich legacy of having done so time and time again. I can’t thank her enough for her contributions to Nickelodeon.
The second part of Russell’s vision is to crystallize the organization as it relates to production. We are realigning the production groups to report directly to the executives for live action and animation. As a result, we will no longer have a centralized senior role in production management, and Alison Dexter will be leaving the company. Alison has built our best in class production team across genres, for preschoolers and new technologies. She has put an incredible team in place with expansive expertise.
I believe Russell’s vision for managing our creative teams allows us to build upon the momentum we have now, and provides us with a structure that ensures our success for years to come. Change is never easy. Both Margie and Alison have made incredible and lasting contributions to Nickelodeon over the years, and I know you join me in wishing them both all the best.
- Russell Hicks