Lowbrow reality shows like Jersey Shore and Teen Mom were Judith McGrath's specialty during her seven years as CEO at MTV, but apparently there are some simulated realities even she objects to: McGrath resigned this morning, hours after the premiere of Electric Barbarellas, a pet project of Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone (Viacom owns MTV) that she hated and tried to have killed a year ago.
Mogulite's Amy Tennery says Redstone insisted MTV proceed with the show when it was in development last summer. McGrath, meanwhile, "fought the Barbarella's airing tooth and nail," only to come up short.
So why did the chairman of Viacom go out on a limb for a reality music show featuring a dancing band? Because he was in love! The Daily Beast's Peter Lauria reported back in June that the 87-year-old Redstone was "so smitten with a scantily clad new all-girl group dubbed the Electric Barbarellas that he has paid to fly its six members out to New York to meet with record labels," quite an act of generosity for an unknown girl group whose style Lauria describes as a "cross between the Pussycat Dolls and Spice Girls, except raunchier and not as musically gifted."
There was no hint from Viacom's press release announcing the departure that the company had picked this obsession over a highly-accomplished television executive. An excerpt from the media alert:
We will all miss Judy enormously, but we respect her decision and understand her desire to leave at the very top of the game with a legacy of success that stretches from the earliest days of cable television to current season highlights.
We'll just be over here, considering the implications of a world where creating Jersey Shore is considered "the very top of [your] game."