James F. Blue III Named Head of Smithsonian Channel at MTV Entertainment

ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Group has tapped “PBS NewsHour” producer and executive James F. Blue III to become its senior vice president and head of Smithsonian Channel.

Blue has been tasked with leading, expanding and diversifying the Smithsonian Channel’s content to further the Smithsonian’s mission to engage, inspire and educate, according to the company. He will oversee all factual unscripted projects for the MTV Entertainment brands, which includes MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel, Pop TV, CMT, VH1, TV Land and Logo.

“MTV Entertainment has an extraordinarily talented team, and I am thrilled to be joining them,” said Blue. “I look forward to leveraging my expertise and experience to help shape and implement MTV Entertainment’s strategic vision for Smithsonian and other news, factual and non-fiction content across, and even beyond, the Group’s platforms.”

He will report to MTV Entertainment Group president Chris McCarthy and president of content and chief creative officer Nina L. Diaz.

“Smithsonian is a world-class brand rich with treasures from our shared American experience,” said McCarthy. “James is an exceptionally talented executive and incredible storyteller who will bring those iconic treasures and experiences to life across all of our platforms.”

Blue most recently worked as the special projects and senior producer of “PBS NewsHour,” where he oversaw “NewsHour” specials and served as the executive producer’s primary deputy for the daily broadcast. He also managed several “NewsHour” reporting initiatives, ranging from “Searching for Justice” to “Race Matters” to “Chasing the Dream.”

In 2012, Blue executive produced BET Network’s political broadcasts that included interviews with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Blue also exec produced BET’s coverage of Michelle Obama’s trip to South Africa and Botswana. Prior to that, he produced for the Koppel Group at the Discovery Channel between 2006 to 2009, and spent 14 years before that as a producer for ABC News — a period that included nine years at “Nightline” — and NBC News, across New York, Washington, D.C. and London.

Among the many accolades Blue has received are eight national Emmy awards, two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Awards, five George Foster Peabody Awards, two Overseas Press Club Awards, the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism, and the NABJ Award for Overall Excellence.

“James’ illustrious storytelling skills make him the perfect fit to lead this next chapter of the Smithsonian Channel,” said Diaz. “With endless material to unleash, I can’t wait to see his unique vision for this storied brand come to life.”

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