MTV Pres. Stephen Friedman Exits
September 30, 2015 at 2:26 PM (PT)
MTV Pres. STEPHEN FRIEDMAN announced his departure from the company in a staff memo, DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD reports. The 18-year MTV vet has run the network since 2008. VIACOM Entertainment Group Pres. DOUG HERZOG will name his successor tomorrow.
HERZOG also issued an e-mail, noting that FRIEDMAN gave his notice in APRIL, shortly after HERZOG assumed oversight of the bulk of the MTV NETWORKS MUSIC & LOGO GROUP after longtime Pres. VAN TOFFLER and Programming Pres. SUSANNE DANIELS left. FRIEDMAN's e-mail went as follows:
I’m going to start this with a quote from an Irish poet. Not BONO, much as I admire him. Not NIALL HORAN, much as I respect his ability to boost ratings. I’m going to quote the great SEAMUS HEANEY. In his poem “The Swing,” HEANEY describes a swing as “a lure let down to tempt the soul to rise.”
I think it is a beautiful metaphor for aiming high, for following your calling. After 18 years, including 7 at the helm of MTV, it reminds me of what originally inspired me to work here. When I was hired to create the pro-social department, I was told, “Your job will be to use MTV’s superpowers for good.”
While I had personally experienced the cultural power of MTV, it wasn’t until I started working here that I understood the true power behind the brand. Those “superpowers” originate with you. Each of you brings your own calling, your own desire to take risks and make new history.
That secret ingredient that supercharges the brand is your deeply held humanity. It’s woven into everything we do, even our craziest cultural moments. Thanks to your passion and creativity, MTV has shown it is possible to be both outrageously entertaining and a force for positive change.
When “Jackass” was airing in all its glory, MTV, as part of a year-long anti-bias campaign, went dark for an entire day scrolling the names of thousands of hate crimes victims to call for a comprehensive hate crimes bill – which finally passed in 2009.
While “Jersey Shore” was at its height, we debuted “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.” Some mistook these cautionary tales as further sign of the apocalypse, but the NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH found that the shows helped drive a remarkable decrease in teen pregnancy.
When “Laguna Beach” reimagined reality TV, mtvU partnered with a brilliant USC grad student to develop “DARFUR Is Dying” – one of the first viral games for change, which helped mobilize millions of young people to take action and raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur.
As BEYONCÉ, TAYLOR, KANYE and NICKI graced our air with world-class artistry and culture defining moments, our Look Different campaign has confronted bias in multiple ways -– through “White People,” “The T Word with LAVERNE COX,” and MLK IS NOW – which turned MTV black and white for the day to encourage our audience to move from “color blindness” to “color bravery.”
Having been blessed to work with you and be part of this remarkable brand for the better part of my career, I am leaving to return full time to what tempts my soul to rise.
My next adventure will be focused full time on giving back, on social impact, and on applying what I’ve learned from MTV about the power of brands and storytelling to create positive change.
What MTV understood at its inception, a growing part of the world is now actively pursuing. We’re in the midst of a boom of mission driven companies that are redefining business while tackling some of the biggest social challenges we face.
Thank you for inspiring me and allowing me to be part of the extraordinary ride that is MTV. I’ll be around for the next few weeks wrapping up, and I hope to say goodbye to as many of you in person as I can. I will miss you. Your passion, creativity, and personal callings have transformed each new MTV –- and, in the process, transformed culture. I will be rooting you on as you do it once again.