One of television’s top movers and shakers — who has been called the most powerful woman in Hollywood — is resigning from her seat of power. According to The Hollywood Reporter, longtime Disney and ABC executive Anne Sweeney is stepping down to become a TV director.
The Walt Disney Co. announced Sweeney’s departure Tuesday. The co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, will remain with the company through January 2015.
B&C reports: "Sweeney oversees Disney’s entertainment and news television interests worldwide. She first joined the company in 1996, and is widely credited with helping to grow properties such as Disney Channel and ABC Family, and with successfully migrating broadcast network ABC’s content onto the Internet in the middle of the last decade. She oversees Disney’s equity interest in A+E Networks and Hulu."
Said Sweeney: "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?’"
In a statement Tuesday announcing the move, Sweeney noted: "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."
She told THR earlier: "I have a lot to learn. But I would like to learn to be a director because I know I am not a writer and I am not an actor. And for the countless times I’ve been on our sets, that makes me a set visitor, that does not make me a director or a producer. So this is the place I intend to start."
Among her titles during her tenure at Disney, Sweeney has been president of Disney Channel, executive VP of Disney/ABC Cable Networks and president of ABC Cable Networks Group and Disney Channels Worldwide.
"Prior to joining Disney, Sweeney spent three years as chairman and CEO of FX Networks. Before joining FX, she spent 12 years in various executive positions at Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite," B&C notes.
Said Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Bob Iger: “Since joining Disney, Anne has 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.”