Viacom has tapped Brian Robbins, the head of its specialty studio Paramount Players, to run Nickelodeon.
Robbins has been named the president of the company’s children programming unit. In the new role, Robbins will report directly to Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom, and will manage the creative and business operations at Nickelodeon. Integral to the job will be helping to evolve the brand for a new generation of young audiences.
Robbins most recently served as president of Paramount Pictures’ Paramount Players division, where he worked closely with Viacom’s other brands to identify talent and properties to be developed into co-branded feature films. In his new role, Robbins will remain integrally involved in the development, production and marketing of all Nickelodeon co-branded films with Paramount Players, including Dora the Explorer and Rugrats, among other current projects.
The move comes a year and a half after Robbins left his own company, AwesomenessTV, to join Paramount Players. He succeeds 30-year vet Cyma Zarghami, who exited Nickelodeon this summer.
As for the vacancy Robbins leaves at Paramount Players, Paramount Pictures has already begun a search for a successor to lead the studio. In the interim, Wyck Godfrey, president of Paramount Pictures’ Motion Picture Group, will oversee day-to-day operations there, with support from Robbins during the transition period.
“Brian is a creative powerhouse who has spent his career on the frontlines of our industry, anticipating and driving changes in television, film and digital media,” Bakish said Monday in a statement. “With his unmatched credentials in kids’ entertainment and his firsthand knowledge of Nickelodeon, I have asked Brian to drive the innovation and transformation that will ensure the brand remains the dominant force with young audiences.”
Added Robbins: “Nickelodeon is one of the entertainment industry’s most vibrant and groundbreaking brands, with iconic properties, a deep culture of creativity and invention, and an incredibly talented team of kids’ entertainment professionals. I’m thrilled to return to Nickelodeon and draw on its many strengths — including its rich library and rapidly growing studio production business — to deliver must-see content to kids on every platform around the world. During this time of upheaval in big media, I can’t wait to disrupt the disrupters.”
Robbins is perhaps best known for co-founding multiplatform media company Awesomeness in 2012, where he served as CEO until 2016. He also co-founded the production company Tollins/Robbins Productions and was the founder and president of Varsity Pictures, where he executive produced a slew of TV hits for teens and young audiences, including the iconic Nickelodeon series Kenan and Kel and All That, the latter of which Robbins adapted into the Nickelodeon feature film Good Burger.
Robbins also executive produced Blue Mountain State for Spike TV (now Paramount Network) and either produced and directed the Paramount films Varsity Blues, Coach Carter and Hardball. His other credits include Smallville and One Tree Hill, along with Disney Channel’s Sonny With a Chance and So Random. On the film side, his credits include Disney’s Wild Hogs and The Shaggy Dog; DreamWorks’ Norbit and A Thousand Words; and Sony Pictures’ Radio.