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.
Two of the world's most powerful women, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and GM CEO Mary Barra, seem to have different formulas for success. But they're more like-minded than you would think.
FORTUNE -- It's a year this week since the launch of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, and Facebook COO-turned-author Sheryl Sandberg is leaning in to her career-counsel crusade fiercely. Having sold 1.6 million books in 27 languages, MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 11, 2014 8:49 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
Facebook exec David Fischer and his dad, Fed choice Stanley Fischer, are both well-suited to work for powerful women bosses.
FORTUNE -- Sheryl Sandberg must be the most politically connected executive in Silicon Valley.
There she was in Washington, D.C., last month when President Obama hosted a powwow with tech honchos at the White House.
Fifteen years earlier, the Facebook (FB) COO served as chief of staff to Larry Summers when he was MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 13, 2014 11:38 AM ET
While we think we're doing enough by giving to philanthropic causes, we might do more by attending to the people in need right before our eyes.
FORTUNE -- Jesse Cool, the owner-chef of Menlo Park's Flea Street restaurant, has fed just about everybody who is anybody in Silicon Valley. At Table 61, Larry Page and Sergey Brin schemed to create Google (GOOG). At Table 31, Mark Zuckerberg convened with Sheryl Sandberg when she MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 23, 2013 9:49 AM ET
Warren Buffett and Glenn Close brought down the house at the opening of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.
After Senator Susan Collins and IMF chief Christine Lagarde kicked off the 2013 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington D.C. Tuesday night with grim views of the dangers of the U.S. government shutdown, actress Glenn Close lightened the mood in high style. Taking the MPW Summit stage to disclose that she's venturing into a new phase of MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 16, 2013 6:23 AM ET
The definitive guide to Fortune's 2013 Most Powerful Women lists, magazine stories and online extras.
Since we released Fortune's 2013 Most Powerful Women list Thursday morning, it's been hard to keep up with the many lists, charts and stories about the world's preeminent women leaders. Here's where you can find all our MPW content:
Click here to visit the homepage for Fortune Most Powerful Women. You'll see the U.S. MPW list, the MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 11, 2013 4:52 PM ET
Fortune's Most Powerful Women list has changed dramatically over 15 years. New stars have emerged. And for the first time, the most famous superstar didn't make the cut.
When Fortune published its first Most Powerful Women in Business list in 1998, there was Carly Fiorina at the top and not a huge amount of power underneath.
Relatively speaking, that is.
That 1998 Fortune MPW list included just two Fortune 500 CEOs: Jill Barad MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 10, 2013 4:56 PM ET
Women in technology top the Fortune Most Powerful Women list. Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer move up. Meg Whitman slips. Who's No. 1? IBM rules again.
Ginni Rometty is Fortune's 2013 Most Powerful Woman in Business. The (IBM) chairman and CEO, who took charge at the start of 2012, takes the No. 1 spot on the MPW list for the second year in a row.
PepsiCo (PEP) CEO Indra Nooyi retains her MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 10, 2013 9:00 AM ET
The star of the movie Jobs lights up Twitter and YouTube with an inspiring speech that evokes not only Apple's late CEO but also Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In lessons.
Is Ashton Kutcher the new male version of Sheryl Sandberg?
When the star of the new Steve Jobs bio-pic took the stage of the Teen Choice Awards to accept the "Ultimate Choice Award" last Sunday, he delivered a talk that evoked MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 23, 2013 2:23 PM ET
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