Brian Robbins Brian Robbins

Viacom has announced that Brian Robbins, director and executive producer of the eight-time Razzie-nominated Eddie Murphy comedy Norbit, is the new president of Nickelodeon, effective immediately. Robbins will report directly to Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom.

Robbins is replacing Cyma Zarghami, the longtime Nick chief who stepped down in June.

Besides Norbit, Robbins has a long and varied history in Hollywood, including jobs as an actor, director, producer, and film executive. He has directed films like The Shaggy Dog and Good Burger, and developed and/or executive produced shows like Kenan and Kel, All That, Smallville, One Tree Hill, and Sonny with a Chance.

Robbins has also worked as an actor, including the '80s sitcom "Head of the Class."
Robbins has also worked as an actor, including the ’80s sitcom “Head of the Class.”

In 2012, Robbins co-founded the tween-oriented multi-platform media company Awesomeness, serving as its CEO. The company was purchased the following year by Dreamworks Animation for $33 million, and it was purchased again this year by Viacom. Robbins left the company last year to join Viacom-owned Paramount Players, a division of Paramount Pictures, where he worked closely with Nickelodeon and Viacom’s other brands to identify talent and properties to be developed into co-branded feature films.

In his new role at Nickelodeon, Robbins will remain integrally involved in the development, production, and marketing of all Nickelodeon co-branded films with Paramount Players, including Dora the Explorer, Rugrats, and other current projects.

Operating out of Los Angeles, Robbins will manage both the creative and business operations at Nickelodeon, and work to grow its content pipeline through “a mix of new and legacy franchises.” His key task though will be to stop the network’s steep ratings decline, an issue affecting all legacy media companies as viewing habits for younger viewers has shifted from cable to internet platforms like Netflix and Google’s Youtube.

Robbins’ credentials as a founder of Awesomeness and his longstanding commitment to Youtube as a content and distribution platform suggest that he will advocate for new ways of spreading Nickelodeon content across digital platforms. Robbins, in fact, said in a statement, that he “can’t wait to disrupt the disrupters” in his new job at Nickelodeon.

“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,” said CEO Bob Bakish. “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.”

Robbins himself added, “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.”

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