Now this came as quite the shocker today, not necessarily because Anne Sweeney would be leaving her post at some point, but because of the reason that was cited!
Today, Variety learned that ABC Television Chief Anne Sweeney will be exiting her position come January to pursue her new career path as a director! Some speculate the move allows for a graceful exit for the executive, who has been with Disney since 1996, rising through the ranks from running Disney Channel to TV chief in 2004.
According to Variety also, it’s understood within Disney that “Sweeney was not seen as a contender to replace Bob Iger as Disney CEO when his contract ends in 2016. With no more room to advance, Sweeney has clearly opted to take a left-turn career-wise. In a lengthy statement, Sweeney asserted that Iger had offered her a long-term contract but she declined. There have been persistent rumors that the two have had chilly relations in recent years.”
Sweeney currently oversees all Disney TV (other than ESPN), so just how things will shake out with her departure will be interesting to follow. She is currently co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, in charge of ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior and ABC News. And as soap fans know, Brian Frons reported to Anne Sweeney when he was in charge of ABC Daytime!
Here is Anne Sweeney’s statement: “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.”
So, what do you think about Anne leaving Disney/ABC to pursue a career in directing? Weigh-in below!