100 Most Influential Women in Advertising

Sharon Osbourne on the Creative Genius of Judy McGrath

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Judy McGrath

Former Chairman-CEO, MTV Networks

Judy McGrath is considered one of the most influential figures in TV -- she essentially transformed MTV from a music-driven channel into an icon of youth culture during her three decades at the network. Ms. McGrath started at MTV as a copywriter in 1981, rising through the ranks to chairman-CEO of MTV Networks from 2004 until she resigned in May 2011. She is known for her creative programming at MTV , as well as VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Sharon Osbourne on the Judy McGrath she knows

It's amazing to think that I first met Judy almost 30 years ago, when she was a rising young star at MTV . In those days, a lot of artists didn't see the point of videos -- they thought they were a distraction from the music, but Judy instinctively knew the dinosaurs were wrong. She could see how TV was introducing music to a whole new generation of fans and at MTV she help create the platform that launched the careers of many music stars to come.

But Judy was only just getting started in the '80s.

She never stopped looking for new, trend-setting content, creating hit after hit, and almost single-handedly defining the "MTV Culture." Judy's decision to buy "The Osbournes" was a demonstration of that . No one had made a celebrity reality show back then. In fact, people were telling us we were crazy for doing it. (They had a point about us being crazy, of course. But not because of the show.) And look what happened: All these years later, celebrity reality is still a national obsession.

With Judy, creativity always comes first. Even as she rose to the highest levels of Viacom -- putting her stamp all over everything from Comedy Central to Nickelodeon -- she was always there for the artists, always the heart and soul of the company. To take just one example: It was Judy who convinced Ozzy to sing the "Crazy Train/Peace Train" duet with Cat Stevens at Comedy Central's "Rally to Restore Sanity" two years ago. Pure genius.

But it's not simply Judy's incredible success that we should honor. It's the fact that she's done it without sacrificing her integrity. What's more, she's kept these high standards as a woman, in an industry so tough, and so dominated by men, many feel they have to prove their ruthlessness. That's why Judy has been such an incredible role model for women everywhere. Not to mention the fact she's smart, funny, warm and a great leader of people, no matter what their sex. Proof of this is the special talent she has for hiring the right people. Many of them -- Van Toffler, Doug Herzog, Rick Krim and Amy Doyle -- are still key executives at the Viacom channels today.

Finally, as much as I respect Judy as a businesswoman, I equally admire her on a personal level. She's not just there for the good times. When I was recovering from cancer, she sent me a beautiful handmade broach, which I still have and love to this day. And as unlikely as it may seem, we both love the ballet.

It was a sad day for MTV when Judy left. But I know she will continue to lead and shine in whatever it is she chooses to do next.

Credited with creating and producing "The Osbournes," Sharon Osbourne is an author, manager and TV personality, among other things.

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