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Comedy Central’s Corrao Has the Last Laugh

Programming chief behind ”Chapelle’s Show“ and ”Reno 911“ stepping down. She wants to produce.

Comedy Central programming chief Lauren Corrao — the woman behind hits such as "Chapelle’s Show" and "The Sarah Silverman Program" — is stepping down after seven years.

A spokesman for the network confirmed the news Monday, and said Corrao would be staying with the channel through December (when her contract expires). MTV Networks Entertainment Group chief Doug Herzog, who oversees Comedy Central (along with Spike and TV Land) announced the news to employees in a memo sent earlier today.

Insiders said Corrao was looking for a change after seven years in the executive suites. She’s expected to focus on producing and developing series; it’s unclear if she’ll do so on her own or as part of a studio or network deal.

"Comedy Central has been my passion and my family for the past seven years and I’m very proud of the legacy I’ll leave behind," Corrao said in a statement released by Comedy Central. "But I feel that this is exactly the right time in this ever changing world of television to personally create, produce and own content. I am very much looking forward to the new and exciting challenges in the next chapter of my career."

Herzog and Comedy Central President Michelle Ganeless will begin looking for Corrao’s replacement immediately.

Here’s Herzog’s memo to staffers:

Allow me to share a quick word about my dear friend and our exceptional colleague…

After a great 7 years at Comedy Central, Lauren Corrao, our president of original programming and development, has decided to make a change and return to her deepest passion: creating and producing content. Lauren’s brilliant career has always been a combination of independent production and network programming gigs at MTV, Fox and, of course, Comedy Central. With this move, she’ll be putting her immense talents to work on the other side of the pitch once again.

Lauren will be sticking with us until the end of her contract in December. In that time, Michele and I will be hard at work finding someone who can fill her often stylish shoes. We wish Lauren all the very best in the next chapter in her career. She will be making a much more specific announcement with regards to that in the upcoming months.

If Lauren’s track record is any indication, that next chapter will be a great one. She joined Comedy in 2002 as senior vice president, original programming and head of development. As she rose through the ranks, the network rose in the ratings on the back of hits like Chappelle’s Show, RENO 911!, Drawn Together, Mind of Mencia, The Sarah Silverman Program and Important Things with Demetri Martin. Lauren is a big part of why Comedy is a first-choice destination for big talent. Under her leadership, Comedy has built strong relationships with Sarah, Demetri, Lewis Black, Katt Williams, Dane Cook, Denis Leary and Jeff Dunham, among others.

Prior to joining Comedy, Lauren played a role in building a broadcast network comedy brand at Fox, where she established hits like That 70s Show, MAD TV and King of the Hill as vice president of comedy development and vice president of alternative and late night development.

I like to think Lauren owes her creative chops to her formative years at MTV, where she began her television career. Lauren would eventually become vice president and executive producer for the channel, where she oversaw the development of shows like Remote Control, The State, and The Ben Stiller Show. I remember the day she walked into my office to say she had figured out the way to do an MTV Soap opera with no actors and no writers — she said, "it’s called The Real World."

The fact of the matter is that we owe a lot more to Lauren – her creative savvy, her eye for talent, her unrivalled work ethic and her unmatched spirit – than she owes to us. We’ll miss her dearly, but the phenomenal programming team she helped put in place will keep Comedy Central rolling as the funniest multiplatform entertainment destination around. .

Business aside, there’s a reason Lauren’s professional path has crossed my own so often. For starters, she’s an amazing creative exec and has made me look good on and off for the better part of the last 20 years. But, beyond that, she’s been a great friend, a confidante, an ally – someone I was honored to be in the foxhole with. I will miss her professional expertise and her friendship but I know we will continue to be connected, both personally and professionally. In the short-term Lauren will be able to avoid my late night calls. But, you can rest assured, that as soon as she embarks on her new journey, I will be the very first person on her call sheet.

Please join me in thanking Lauren, and wishing her all the luck in the world as she embarks on a new adventure.