James F. Blue II is stepping down as SVP and head of Paramount’s Smithsonian Channel after approximately one-and-a-half years in the post, Realscreen has confirmed.
Blue shared the news with staff via a brief internal memo. The former PBS NewsHour and Nightline producer did not reveal in the memo where he is heading next.
The memo was followed by a message from Paramount Global Media networks president and CEO Chris McCarthy, MTV Entertainment Group CCO and president of content Nina Diaz, and Paramount Media Networks/MTV Entertainment Studios COO Keyes Hill-Edgar, which stated that Pam Aguilar, VP of original documentaries for MTV Entertainment Group, and her team would “step up in this time of transition.”
Before arriving at Smithsonian, Blue was the special projects and senior producer of PBS NewsHour, where he managed specials and served as the executive producer’s primary deputy for the daily broadcast. He also managed several NewsHour reporting initiatives, including “Searching for Justice,” “Race Matters” and “Chasing the Dream.”
Prior to this, Blue served as an executive producer for BET Networks during the 2012 U.S. election cycle, where he conducted exclusive interviews with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and extensively covered Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Blue also held various senior titles with NBC News, the Koppel Group at the Discovery Channel, and at ABC News, which was highlighted by nine years at Nightline.
He joined Smithsonian in December 2020 as part of a restructuring that saw the departures of Smithsonian Networks president Tom Hayden and EVP of programming and production and founding team member David Royle. Blue reported directly to McCarthy and Diaz.
Blue’s arrival, at the time, was said to be part of an effort to diversify and expand the channel’s content offerings. Recent commissions have included The Color of Care, produced with Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, and the recently announced The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist, produced by PB&J and Patty Ivins Productions.
The news was first reported by Deadline.
(With files from Daniele Alcinii)