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DiSanto, Gateley Exit MTV for Ben Silverman-Backed Production Co. (Updated)

MTV will lose its president of programming and top development exec to production company backed by Silverman’s Electus

Two of MTV's top programming executives are leaving to form their own production company, according to multiple reports.

Tony DiSanto, the network's programming president, and Liz Gateley, his top development executive, are leaving the cable network to start a venture partially owned by Ben Silverman's Electus.

Update: An MTV spokesperson confirmed to TheWrap that DiSanto and Gateley are departing for their own production company. DiSanto was eager to get back into producing and he first approached the network about making the change about a year ago. The pair have a commitment to produce multiple episodes for MTV.

Electus is backed by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp.Deadline reports that David Janollari, executive vice president of scripted development, will likely be promoted as a result of their departure — though it's not clear what his exact role will be.

In April, MTV and Electus jointly announced the development of what they termed the first-ever interactive telenovela, "Pedro and Maria," a digital series produced by America Ferrera.

DiSanto has spent nearly 20 years at MTV, where he created the hit countdown show "Total Request Live" and was an executive producer at "Laguna Beach," which was instrumental in moving MTV toward its current reality-heavy direction. 

Previously president of the WB network and a co-founder of the Greenblatt Janollari Studios, which produced HBO's landmark "Six Feet Under." He was hired by the network in January.

Representatives for Electus, MTV and IAC declined to confirm the reports to TheWrap.

The move by DiSanto continues the exodus of top programming executives for MTV, with longtime programming chief Brian Graden also departing the network last year.

In addition to serving as a key programming executive for MTV, DiSanto was a primary creative force behind series including "Laguna Beach," "Run's House," "The Hills," and "The Andy Milonakis Show," all of which in served as executive producer on.

The news that DiSanto and Gateley would leave MTV for their new production venture was first reported by Variety and Deadline.com.

(Updated 12:54 p.m. 10/1/10)