It didn't take long for things to get interesting at Tom Freston's “new” Viacom. Just a day after the company—composed largely of MTV Networks (MTVN) and Paramount—was separated from CBS Corp., word came that NickelodeonNetworks President Herb Scannell was resigning.
Insiders at the company say that another shoe is about to drop: Viacom's well regarded research guru, Betsy Frank, is leaving, too.
As far as Scannell goes, he basically had no way to expand his turf at Nickelodeon. It was Judy McGrath, not Scannell, who was tapped by Freston to succeed him as chairman of MTVN. And MTV insiders say that Scannell feels he lost power when McKinsey & Co. consultant Michael Wolfe was anointed MTVN president.
One exec close to Scannell disputes that and says that the Nick boss was completely supportive.
Scannell dismisses talk of friction, insisting that his motives are completely personal. He has worked for or been in charge of Nick almost since it was a startup, and he wants something else to do.
“This is about me. I've been a company and team player in a lot of ways,” Scannell said. “I had to think about myself.”
Before he left, tears were shed at 1515 Broadway, many of them by Scannell himself. The sensitive executive began crying at a staff meeting and during some one-on-ones with other execs.
“He's an emotional guy,” notes one Scannell staffer. “He'd get emotional because he was so proud over a Dora The Explorer live show.”
Frank's departure is not directly related, but the motives are similar. Her duties narrowed after the Viacom breakup, and she wasn't interested. She will remain a consultant both for movies and for planning MTVN's upfront strategies.