FORTUNE -- Anne Sweeney, Walt Disney's (DIS) veteran executive in charge of ABC and the co-chair of the media giant's vast cable-TV assets, is leaving.
Only in Hollywood does a Fortune 500 boss in charge of businesses in 166 countries give up a high-profile gig to become a director of TV shows. That's what Sweeney intends to become, she says, after her Disney contract runs out at the end of this year.
Today's news of Sweeny's exit sent rumors swirling that she was eased out or that she's departing because she hoped to succeed CEO Bob Iger but is not in the running. The rumors are untrue, says a high-ranking source at Disney. When Sweeney's previous contract was several months away from expiring last year, according to Disney, Iger offered her three more years; she asked instead for a one-year extension.
And while the rumor goes around that another powerful woman, Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg who is on the Disney board, may be a candidate to succeed Iger, that's highly unlikely. Iger's contract runs until 2016, and the two top candidates to take over from him are internal: Disney CFO Jay Rusulo and Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs.
As for Sweeney, she has been loyal since joining the company in 1996 as president of the Disney Channel, but she's never been solely focused on climbing the ladder. Sweeney, who is 56, began her career wanting to be an actress. In 2007, she started taking painting lessons and became an avid artist.
Today, Sweeney juggles her job as co-chairman of Disney Media Networks with caring for elderly parents, both retired teachers who live near her in Los Angeles, and an autistic son, Christopher. Sweeney and her husband have a grown daughter too. She talked about Christopher at length for the first time in this 2011 interview, part of a Yahoo (YHOO) series called Power Your Future. And yes, that's young Chris in Sweeney's painting above.
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A shakeup at Citigroup leaves two women with bigger jobs -- and one prominent departure.
FORTUNE -- In what has long been a minefield for senior women -- the big banks -- three female executives burnished their power this week.
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Former Coke exec Laurie Ann Goldman was the powerful brand builder behind SPANX founder Sara Blakely's billion-dollar success.
FORTUNE -- SPANX announced yesterday that the CEO Laurie Ann Goldman would be leaving the Atlanta-based company. Despite the surprising management change, Goldman's success with the brand is undeniable.
While on maternity leave in 2001, Coca-Cola (KO) licensing exec Laurie Ann Goldman perused Saks Fifth Avenue in Atlanta in hopes of MOREColleen Leahey, Reporter - Feb 11, 2014 12:27 PM ET
The man who gave Hollywood producer Brian Grazer his daily dose of cultural knowledge now helps companies understand trends. Here's a peek at Brad Grossman's 2014 Zeitguide.
FORTUNE -- I met Brad Grossman about a decade ago when I went to interview Brian Grazer, who is Ron Howard's producing partner and the force behind movies from Apollo 13 to A Beautiful Mind to last year's Rush. Grazer is a fascinating MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 10, 2014 8:44 AM ET
GM CEO Mary Barra and Google exec Susan Wojcicki, newly in charge of YouTube, show that you can reach the top by staying in one place.
FORTUNE -- Job-hopping can be a path to promotions and big pay for many executives, but the global edition of the Fortune Most Powerful Women list, released today, suggests that there is still value in corporate loyalty. Ten of the 50 executives on the list MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 6, 2014 11:46 AM ET
A new venture by two prominent startup investors says much about where Silicon Valley money is heading—and much about the void they leave in their wake.
FORTUNE -- Silicon Valley venture capitalists Jennifer Fonstad and Theresia Gouw are leaving their firms and going into business together.
Aspect Ventures is the name. And the most interesting aspect of this startup—besides the cofounders' focus on mobile, which says a lot about where Silicon Valley MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 5, 2014 9:00 AM ET
This adventurer's weakness could have led to disaster for her and her daredevil team. An extraordinary tale of survival and success.
FORTUNE -- Alison Levine grew up like the a lot of us, did well in school, got an MBA at Duke, worked for Goldman Sachs (GS), tried politics (as deputy finance director in Arnold Schwarzenegger's California gubernatorial campaign) and never felt satisfied. So she started climbing mountains, with inordinate determination. MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 31, 2014 5:26 AM ET
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