MTV's Tony DiSanto Knows What to Watch
BY CRISTINA KINON
Not to worry, folks. MTV head honcho Tony DiSanto has “the situation” under control.
No, we’re not talking about Jersey Shore’s eight-pack-abs man—there’s no stopping that guy—but rather the network’s rapidly expanding portfolio of reality TV, awards shows, documentaries and, soon, even scripted series.
DiSanto, MTV’s programming president, says that because the network’s core audience is constantly changing, so too must its programming slate. So despite the potent popularity of recent hits like the aforementioned Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant, DiSanto and his team are already looking for the next big thing.
“I feel like we’ve reinvented reality a couple times, so right now, our goal is to keep our reality strong while also developing our scripted stuff,” says DiSanto, who was born in New York and moved to Manhasset as a child before returning to the city as a resident in 1995. “We don’t need it, but I really do believe in creative diversity. It’s a challenge that will revolutionize the network once again.”
Among the network’s scripted fare so far is Warren the Ape, a reality-show parody about a D-list celebrity puppet—set to debut in June—as well as a TV remake of the film Teen Wolf, currently in development.
It’s safe to say DiSanto knows what he’s doing over at MTV, having started there as an intern right out of high school and continuing while studying film at New York University. Hired full-time as a production assistant after graduation, DiSanto worked his way up the corporate ladder, settling in as a staff producer/director in the mid-1990s. Along the way he dabbled in everything the company had to offer, from stage managing to editing to writing and even starting his own production company, through which he directed music videos, short films and trailers. That variety of experiences, he says, has helped him become a better boss.
“The best piece of advice I ever got and that I still follow today is learn every aspect of the business,” says DiSanto. “That way, you can always articulate your thoughts and ideas more clearly because you’ve been through it.”
It also helps that DiSanto can relate to his audience—almost too well. “I’m a kid at heart,” DiSanto says. “OK, maybe I’m a little immature, but that’s a good thing around here. We encourage it.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID LAND; GROOMING BY STEPHANIE FLOR FOR ARTISTSBYTIMOTHYPRIANO.COM
Cover shoot: May/June 2014 issue of Gotham magazine.