In Depth

The Suits: Brian Graden

President of entertainment, MTV Networks Music Channels

With broadcast networks increasingly skittish about taking too many chances on unscripted TV, cable has become a breeding ground for innovation in reality. MTV and VH1 have been at the forefront of that revolution, with Mr. Graden serving as the connective tissue for some of the medium’s most groundbreaking efforts.

TVWeek’s Real Power

Leading MTV at the turn of the century, he greenlit genre-busting series “The Osbournes” and “Newlyweds.” He added VH1 to his portfolio in 2002, and transformed it into a pop- culture temple by revitalizing the failed WB series “The Surreal Life.” “Life” became a phenom on VH1 and spawned countless spinoffs (“I Love New York,” “Rock of Love”) and the so-called “celebreality” subgenre. And more recently, MTV blurred the lines between scripted and unscripted with “Laguna Beach” and its exponentially more successful spinoff “The Hills.” Even CMT is starting to get real under Mr. Graden, with buzz-making shows such as “Gone Country.”

“The whole decade has been a wild scramble to figure out what’s next, first,” Mr. Graden said, noting that he and his team “don’t always get it right.” When they have, however, they’ve permanently changed the TV landscape.

Favorite reality show: The 2008 election. “The whole Hillary-Barack battle was like the first season of ‘American Idol,’” Mr. Graden said.