Did CEO McGrath Hate “Electric Barbarellas” so Much She Left MTV?
11:57 am, May 5th | by Amy Tennery
She was the leader behind MTV’s reality show boom, championing programs like “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom” — but, in an ironic turn of events, we suspect network veteran Judy McGrath is now ditching her CEO spot over true-life T.V.
McGrath, a 30-year veteran at MTV, where she spent seven years as chairman and CEO, stepped down this morning, according to a press release from Viacom.
The now-former MTV exec reportedly almost left the network a year ago because of “Electric Barbarellas” — a contentious reality show about a fledging electric-pop band that Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone allegedly shoved down MTV’s throats. McGrath reportedly fought the Barbarella’s airing tooth and nail — and her resignation today comes on the heels of the show’s premiere last night. Coincidence? We’re not so sure.
Mogulite Consulting Editor Peter Lauria unraveled the morass as it unfolded last year. A source told Lauria that “Redstone basically told McGrath that she has to do [the show],” and another implied that the Viacom honcho, often respected for his business acumen, was only promoting “Electric Barbarellas” because he had become smitten with the scantily clad all-female group.
The situation, needless to say, was tense, and one Viacom source told Lauria that McGrath “checked out a little bit” following the Barbarellas controversy.
Of course, things only got more awkward after Redstone offered Lauria a reward to squeal on the Barbarellas leak, leaving a three-minute voicemail:
“You may be reluctant, but we have to have [for the lawsuit] the name of the person who gave you that story… We’re not going to kill him. We just want to talk to him. We’re not going to fire him. We just want to talk to him.”
What a relief murder wasn’t in the cards!
So, did McGrath finally bail on MTV over Redstone’s strong-arm tactics? Well, a statement from Viacom paints a rather rosy picture:
“We will all miss Judy enormously, but we respect her decision and understand her desire to leave at the very top of the game with a legacy of success that stretches from the earliest days of cable television to current season highlights. The networks under her direction are rapidly expanding to new platforms and reaching new creative and ratings milestones, all under the able guidance of experienced and talented management teams.”
Looks like this is one decision McGrath made that Viacom managed to “respect.”
Aside from the Viacom statement, a spokesperson for MTV was not immediately available for comment.