Leaving the Mouse House

Disney’s longtime TV chief is Packing it in. 

Anne Sweeney, who has held top executive positions at Disney for the last 18 years will leave her post in January to pursue a career as a television director.

The NY Daily News writes that Sweeney’s deal with Disney expires later this year, and TV insiders had been expecting a decision on her future with the company for some time. But her goal of working behind the camera, overseeing individual television shows instead of an entire TV empire, including ABC, came as a complete shock Tuesday.

“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,” Sweeney said in a statement.

“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.”

Sweeney joined Disney in 1996, rising through the ranks from running the Disney Channel to TV chief in 2004 — a role which includes overseeing ABC, the company’s many Disney-themed cable channels and a group of television stations, including WABC/Ch.7.

“I applaud Anne for knowing what she wants out of life and for having the courage to follow her dream. We’re thrilled she’ll be with us through the end of the year, and look forward to having her direct one of our shows in the future,” Disney chief, Bob Iger, said in a statement.