Producers are one of the people that help a production get off the ground. I mean, they wouldn’t be called producers if they weren’t involved with the production. You need support from a producer in order to start making the stuff you want to do. Often, the producers are the heads of the production arms of a media company. They are in charge of greenlighting the pitches that writers submit to them. But the process of producing your own show or film takes a bit of work. You have to convince them that your project is worth the money that they would, hypothetically, put into it.
One person who has overseen a lot of productions in his career is Van Toffler. Now, I don’t fault anybody who doesn’t recognize a name like that. Not everybody is in the know when it comes to the corporate structures of multinational media companies. Nor should they be. The people who know of Van are people who write about the industry or work in the company that he used to work for. There are so many people involved in producing any kind of television show. There’s the people who work on the show like the hosts or the actors, the writers, the people who operate all loads of equipment and the directors.
The thing about executives for these media companies is that it’s very hard to find interviews about them. Let me correct myself. It’s very hard to find interviews where they talk about their personal lives. Most of the interviews that I was able to find were mostly about his work as the president of the Viacom Media Networks Music & Logo Group. The division name is such a mouthful to say and write. Basically, he handles everything that relates to the MTV brand and bunch of the music channels that Viacom has.
What I am getting at is that there’s not a lot you can find out about Van Toffler. Prior to heading up the Music & Logo Group, Van was an associate lawyer at the law firm now known as Kaye Scholer. How he went from being a lawyer to basically running a division under an icon brand that is MTV is kind of a mystery. His career at Viacom started in 1987. I’m not really sure what his position is at that point but as time went on his rank in that division went up. He helped create the online portal for MTV and the cable channel MTV2. Aside from that, he was also a producer for the VMAs before he stepped down in 2015.
It’s interesting to see how instrumental a person was to keeping the longevity of a brand. Even though Van oversaw the period where MTV shifted to having a lot of different reality series. It’s very for any network to chase a certain demographic. People age out of those demographic sometimes but new people become part of it. But even as the shift from being a music video-focused channel to becoming an all-around entertainment with music videos sprinkled between, Van has helped keep MTV alive.
Like I said earlier, Van announced sometime in 2015 that he would step down as president and CEO of the Music & Logo Group. The reasoning for it is that he wanted to start his own company. Even then, Van was still going to produce the VMAs before he effectively leaves. That was the year where Miley Cyrus hosted the ceremonies. I don’t really remember much about the VMAs that aired that year. But it probably had to with Miley sort of getting in her more raunchier phase in her career. I distinctly remember her dancing on a poll on top of an ice cream cart. At this point, Van had a net worth of about $29,000,000.
In 2016, Van Toffler launched Gunpowder & Sky, a production and distribution company that does documentaries and programming aimed at millennials. In 2022, Van signed a multi-picture deal with the MTV Entertainment Group. In the press release about, he seems pretty excited to be back working with the people who allowed him to help produce shows and movies like Napoleon Dynamite and Beavis & Butthead. One of the films that they produced was Hot Mess Holiday that aired on Comedy Central.