Divney Unretires, to Head MTVN Ad Sales

In a surprise move, former Comedy Central president Larry Divney is coming back to work for MTV Networks as head of ad sales after a brief retirement, officials said Wednesday.

Divney, who “retired” from Comedy in June, will serve as chief operating officer of ad sales for MTVN, basically taking over some of the duties formerly done by Mark Rosenthal, who had been MTVN’s president before leaving the company in July.

The appointment of Divney -- who had said he was going off to farm --was one of a series of corporate promotions unveiled by MTVN chairman and CEO Judy McGrath.

“We’re bringing him back to his ad-sales roots, and I am confident that with his expertise, we will exceed the phenomenal growth we’ve seen this year,” McGrath said in a prepared statement. “And aside from the fact that we were really missing him, I think he realized that farming is way overrated.”

Several of Divney’s friends and colleagues -- including his former boss, Tom Freston -- had predicted that Divney wouldn’t stay retired for long.

Before being named president of Comedy, Divney was the network’s ad-sales chief. Rosenthal had been overseeing MTVN’s ad sales, but he left the company abruptly this summer when McGrath was promoted to succeed Freston, a job Rosenthal wanted. Freston’s slot had been left vacant when he was elevated and named Viacom Inc. co-president.

As expected, also on Wednesday, McGrath named her successor, Van Toffler, formerly president of MTV: Music Television, MTV2 and MTV Films. His new title is MTV Networks Group president, responsible for MTV, MTV2, VH1, Country Music Television and Logo. Toffler will report to McGrath.

In addition, Brian Graden, formerly president of entertainment for MTV and VH1, got new titles and expanded duties. He was named president of Logo, the gay network MTVN is launching in February, and president of entertainment for the MTVN Music Group, which includes MTV, MTV2, VH1 and CMT. Graden will also serve as creative liaison for MTV’s international operations. He will report to both Toffler and McGrath.

Under the management structure now in place, Comedy president Doug Herzog will report directly to McGrath. VH1 general manager Christina Norman and CMT GM Brian Phillips will report to Toffler.

McGrath also said that Matt Farber -- a consultant who did the groundwork for Logo -- will officially be given the title of Logo founder and will take a broader consulting role at MTVN, developing additional media options for the gay and lesbian audience.

Finally, Denmark West, formerly of Microsoft Corp., was named executive vice president of strategy and business development.