Christina Norman

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Christina Norman, known for her creative vision, started out in tabletop. In other words, she used to produce the most tedious part of a TV commercial, often likened to drilling teeth-the money shot. "I still remember my last spot," says the indefatigable general manager of VH1 in her 20th floor office in the Viacom building on Times Square. "It was for Tylenol Allergy Sinus. It was all night shooting because the pill was the wrong color and we were using a motion control camera, which takes forever to set up."

Patience is a virtue, and a smart career move. Ms. Norman advanced from the prosaic work of wrangling pharmaceuticals, hamburgers and corn chips for tabletop directors such as Chuck Clemmons and Santiago Suarez, to producing and then managing one of the most creative commercial outfits, the MTV on-air promotions unit.

The year was 1991, and the on-air unit was known as the incubator that hatched "Beavis & Butt-Head." Later it became the breeding ground for star spot directors such as Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire.

Ms. Norman ran the department as senior VP until last year, when she was elevated into the lofty realm of running a network, VH1. "I was looking for someone who could spark more creative thinking and individual expression," says Judy McGrath, president, MTV Networks Group, who promoted Ms. Norman.

Ms. Norman, 40, moved up to VH1 last year, replacing John Sykes, who was named chairman of Viacom's Infinity Radio.

Making VH1 live

"From day one, we've been making sure VH1 is returned to its former glory," says Ms. Norman. "Viewership was going down, and people viewed us a kind of a dry music-history channel. So for me, it was all about making VH1 live."

"Live" for Ms. Norman, meant moving the channel away from its musty reputation as a music destination for mature audiences and making it younger, more exciting and sexy. Ms. Norman introduced new programming such as "Inside Out," a reality show that follows musicians on their day to day rounds, and "Driven," tales of the unbridled ambitions of rock stars. She also has been working to integrate advertising and content, such as marrying Cadbury Schweppes' Snapple with the program "Road Rules."

"Christina wants to take the brand and see it live in other places, growing digital channels, in music compilations at Starbucks, a concert series," adds Ms. McGrath. Ms. Norman made her first big pitch to advertisers at the MTV upfront in May this year, sharing the stage with the likes of Elton John, Kid Rock and Farah Fawcett.

"There was a buyer I know from Zenith Media in the audience," Ms. Norman recalls. "She used to complain about the channel when I first got here. After the upfront, she came up to me and said, `I finally get it.' ... To witness that kind of response from a buyer was awesome."

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