'Dora' creator Johnson out at Nickelodeon

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LOS ANGELES — Reeling from its spectacular ratings fall, Nickelodeon has pushed out animation chief Brown Johnson, the executive most responsible for creating the network’s cartoon sensation “Dora the Explorer.”

Johnson is leaving Nickelodeon “to pursue her own creative endeavors,” Nickelodeon said in a statement Wednesday. She had served as president of animation for four years, but had been a creative force within the network for two decades.

Johnson was instrumental to Nickelodeon’s enormous success during the last decade, guiding “Dora the Explorer” and “Blue’s Clues,” cornerstones of the network’s groundbreaking preschool programming.

However, during the last year, Nickelodeon has hemorrhaged young viewers.

The channel’s ratings are down 28 percent compared with last summer in the key demographic of children ages 2 to 11.

On Wednesday, Nickelodeon announced a management shake-up that saw the consolidation of the network’s operations in Los Angeles, the ouster of Brown and the reassignment of Margie Cohn, who had been in charge of live-action programming.

Now, Russell Hicks, a 14-year Nickelodeon veteran and chief creative officer, will run West Coast operations. Previously, the duties had been split between Johnson and Cohn. Hicks was named president of content development and production for the Nickelodeon Group.

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