Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless Stepping Down This Month


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The Trades are reporting that there’s been a big shakeup over at Comedy Central. The Viacom-owned company has announced that Comedy Central President , who has been at the helm of the company for the past 12 years, will be stepping down from her post. In an internal memo to staff, both Ganeless and president of Viacom Media Networks Music & Entertainment Group Doug Herzog reported the news that Ganeless had decided to step down from her role at the end of the month. Kent Alterman, who is currently the president of original programming at Comedy Central, will take over Ganeless’ duties, with Ganeless remaining on board as a consultant until September.

Ganeless paid tribute to her friends and co-workers at Comedy Central in her memo to the staff: “For the better part of two decades, Comedy Central has been my second home and all of you have been more than just my colleagues, you’ve been like family. I have had the tremendous honor of leading this brand for the past 12 years, and to have played a role in its leadership for 17 of the last 20. It has been an absolute privilege to be part of the explosion of this remarkable brand, and to bear witness to and help build the cultural force that is Comedy Central.”

Ganeless has a long history with Comedy Central, having been in the room the day that the idea for the network was first conceived some 25 years ago. She left the company two times during that stretch, for MTV and USA, before returning to the network 12 years ago as the company’s president. During that time, she established Comedy Central as television’s #1 comedy brand, and helped to grow cult-classic shows like , The Colbert Report, South Park, Tosh.0, and Broad City into mainstays of American culture. Under Ganeless’ leadership, the network won numerous awards, from Emmys to Peabodys and many in between.

Kent Alterman, Ganeless’ replacement, has a similar history with Comedy Central: He’s been with the company for ten years now, having left in the early 2000’s to work with Fox Film Studios and New Line before returning in 2010. Since then, he’s climbed his way up the corporate ladder, from Executive Vice President to President of Content Development and Original Programming. In that role, in which he reported directly to Ganeless, he helped to develop shows such as Key & Peele, Drunk History, Inside , Broad City, and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, among others.

Ratings at the network have fallen in recent months, and the internet rumor mill is speculating that Ganeless may have been pressured to step down in order to bring in a new network head. These whispers are nothing but that, rumors and whispers, and should be taken as such. In the meantime, it’d be a shame not to acknowledge the wonderful work that Ganeless did at Comedy Central, turning the network from a goofy comedy channel playing endless MST3K re-runs to one that produces high-quality political satire, sketch comedy and original narratives that draw in people of all ages. Best wishes to Michele in her next endeavor!

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Bill Tressler

Bill is a writer and comedy enthusiast from New York. An avid gamer and podcast fan, he strives to always toe the line between charming irreverence and grating honesty.