The Walt Disney Co. said Anne Sweeney is leaving as co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group in January 2015 to pursue a career in television directing.
She has been with the company since 1996 in a variety of senior roles, starting as president of Disney Channel and EVP of Disney/ABC Cable Networks. She joined Disney from FX Networks and spent 12 years at Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite before joining Fox.
In a statement, Sweeney said: “The past 18 years at Disney have been the highlight of my executive career. I’ve been a part of an amazing evolution in our business and our industry, and have achieved far more than I ever thought possible. But as wonderful as the experience has been, there has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head pushing me to step out of the comfort zone of the executive ranks and more directly into the creative arena that enticed me to TV in the first place. I finally listened to that voice and thought, ‘if not now, when?’ I know my decision to step back from all of this to learn the art of Directing may seem surprising, but to me it’s a long realized dream. I am so thankful to Bob Iger for his leadership, guidance and his friendship over the years, and am grateful not only for his offer to remain with the company for many years to come, but his understanding and support of my decision to make this change. I’m excited to spend the remainder of this year positioning the TV Group for even greater success.”
Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in the statement: “Since joining Disney, Anne been a very successful executive in our senior ranks. Over the years she grew our Disney Channel business into a global powerhouse and the main brand driver of our company around the world; built ABC Family into a top cable network here in the U.S.; made ABC a strong, successful content creation engine; and has been a great partner in leading our industry into the digital age. Anne’s collaborative spirit, genuine curiosity and unwavering support have been a constant, but it is her friendship that I most value. I applaud Anne for knowing what she wants out of life and for having the courage to follow her dream. We’re thrilled she’ll be with us through the end of the year, and look forward to having her direct one of our shows in the future.”
The news first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.