Robin Schwartz Exits OWN President Post

Less than a year after leaving Regency Television to assume the role of president of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, Robin Schwartz has stepped down from her post, effective immediately.

There are no plans to fill the position, said OWN CEO Christina Norman.

“I want to thank Robin for her hard work, dedication and passion over the past several months,” Norman said by way of announcing Schwartz’s resignation. “She assembled a great executive team and grew the vision for OWN out of its infancy.” As a result of her resignation, I’ve decided to streamline executive reporting and will not be replacing [Schwartz].”  

Under the new reporting structure, Nina Wass, senior vp, creative affairs, and Maria Grasso, senior vp, programming, will now report directly to Norman. Both executives were hired by Schwartz (Wass came aboard in August 2008, Grasso in October).

Schwartz joined OWN last June from Regency Television, where she had served as president since 2004. During her tenure, Schwartz oversaw the production of Malcolm in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show.

Schwartz’ defection comes two weeks after Norman offered media buyers their first look at what former Viacom CEO Tom Freston is touting as the hottest idea since MTV. Speaking at Discovery’s New York upfront presentation (April 2), Norman assured would-be clients that the network was rapidly taking shape, despite the wobbly economy. “It’s a great time to launch a new network,” Norman said. “Now is the time for fearless innovation … Now is the time for OWN.”

Among the projects in development are: a Harpo-produced strip helmed by frequent Oprah Winfrey Show guest Peter Walsh, a professional organizer/clutter buster; a one-hour sex and relationships talk show led by Sirius XM radio host Dr. Laura Berman; and the exposé/newsmagazine Inside: Lisa Ling Investigates.

Norman took the helm at OWN on Feb. 17, a year after leaving MTV.

Freston has been working with the OWN launch team as a consultant, although he has intimated that he’ll be stepping up his efforts as the channel gets closer to going live early next year. In February, Freston said that OWN is “as big an idea now as MTV was [in 1981],” adding that the concept is “a great fit for our economic era.”