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.
Richard Nanula has little chance to fulfill the high expectations that so many people once had of him.
FORTUNE -- When he was appointed chief financial officer of the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) at age 31, he was the youngest CFO in Fortune 500 history. When he became CEO of Starwood Hotels (HOT) in 1998, he was one of the first black Fortune 500 chiefs. Richard Nanula later became CFO of MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 28, 2013 11:12 AM ET
Sometimes bad things happen for good reason. So it goes with Nina Jacobson, the producer of The Hunger Games.
Jacobson was in the hospital, with her partner in labor and her father in intensive care, six years ago when her boss at Disney (DIS) fired her over the phone. "Can you come in?" Dick Cook asked Jacobson, then president of the company's Buena Vista movie studio. "No, I really can't," Jacobson MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 23, 2012 1:01 PM ET
"If Twitter is the telephone, we're the conversation."
That comment was a highlight of Fortune Brainstorm Tech's "Future of Television" discussion on Thursday—even though the person who said it wasn't in the room.
No offense to the panelists on stage: Disney (DIS) Media Networks co-chair Anne Sweeney, CBS (CBS) exec Nancy Tellem, and NBC Universal's (CMCSA) Lauren Zalaznick. But the remark--which moderator Jason Hirschhorn said former MTV Networks (VIA) CEO Judy McGrath MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 22, 2011 11:35 AM ET
FORTUNE -- As the most powerful woman in children's television, Anne Sweeney meets a lot of girls who wish they were Selena Gomez or Miley Cyrus or tomorrow's superstar.
But Sweeney insists that she sees plenty of accomplished women in business who do that very same thing.
"I see a lot of women of every age trying to be something else," says Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 19, 2011 2:34 PM ET
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is going on the Disney (DIS) board. Smart move for her. And smart move for Disney CEO Bob Iger and his fellow directors.
Sandberg, 40, is super-smart and supremely connected, having worked her way from Harvard to the World Bank to the U.S. Treasury--where she worked for then-Secretary Larry Summers--to Google (GOOG), where she was the top-ranked woman exec. She moved to Facebook early last year. And MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 23, 2009 6:32 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers and Jessica Shambora
We took a break from posting our daily Power Point--Postcards' quote of the day--last week, but we collected more than a few good ones at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Pasadena. Here are our 10 favorites, from the mouths of media moguls, tech titans, Tweeters and more.
"It's not really my thing. I don't go to the dentist. I don't do things that cause me to emote." MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jul 28, 2009 12:09 PM ET
The sun's coming out in New York City after a week of seemingly endless rain. This was also a whirlwind week of interesting encounters.
On Tuesday, I had lunch, unexpectedly, with Walt Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger. We were both at the New York Stock Exchange for Jeff Sonnenfeld's Yale CEO Summit, and Iger was getting the "Legend in Leadership Award." The Summit was off the record (as was the lunch), MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 12, 2009 6:10 PM ET
"At the end of a day the performance of a company like Kraft has everything to do with the quality of the people that we have in the key roles and so I spend most of my time worrying about whether that's the case, making sure...we have the right people in the right places, that they have the resources that they need to get the job done."
-- Kraft (KFT) CEO MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - May 5, 2009 6:57 PM ET
"Advertisers have made it clear that they want a safe environment unpolluted by videos of cats on skateboards."
-- Jeff Zucker, CEO of General Electric's (GE) NBC Universal, in the New York Times. On Thursday ABC, owned by Disney (DIS), announced that it would begin showing its programs on Hulu.com, a joint venture established by NBC and News Corporation's (NWS.A) Fox. The move further casts the video site as the home MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Apr 30, 2009 6:50 PM ET
|Michaels hack hit 3 million|
|Walmart offers cheaper money wire service|
|GM's recalled Cobalt was a failure from the start|
|Detroit pension cuts hit civilian workers hardest|
|Satya Nadella needs more than one trick to fix Microsoft|