Saturday, June 15, 2024

Viacom Forces Out Debra Lee, Head of BET, With the Company Since 1986


Debra Lee is being forced out of BET. She’s been with the company since 1986 and is incredibly much respected. But Viacom wants her out.

Bob Bakish, the head of Viacom, said this ridiculous thing in a much wrung statement: “While we will all miss Debra tremendously, we respect her decision and understand her desire to leave at the very top of the game with a legacy of significant contributions that spans decades. I have seen first-hand how the network has grown under her direction, and I know that she will bring that same innovative thinking and strategic vision to her future pursuits. Debra has groomed an amazing group of senior executives, and I am confident that BET Networks will continue to flourish under their leadership.”

BET bounced Stephen Hill out last year. He was the only other person from that network who seemed to be everywhere and get anything done. Debra Lee’s ouster was just a matter of time. Always elegant, well spoken, beautiful, smart, she was the best representative that network ever could have had.

Corporate America — it ain’t for the weak of heart. I hope Debra has a nice big parachute.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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