Women in Entertainment 2010 - Power 100 List
Trust us. We tried to find a way not to make Anne Sweeney No. 1. After all, she also topped The Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 last year. And with our new magazine only weeks old, it seemed like a great time to look for a fresh face, maybe try a new approach.
So during the past few months, our editors crunched the numbers -- and as everyone on this list knows, numbers don't lie.
-- Revenue at Sweeney's Disney Media Networks last year was more than $17 billion, up 6%.
-- Those same properties are valued at a staggering $61 billion.
-- She oversees 10,000 employees, far more than any other woman in the entertainment industry.
It also didn't hurt that when asked, "Who is the most powerful women in Hollywood?" almost everyone THR contacted -- from high-level agents to producers and even rival executives -- named Sweeney.
So what makes her so special? Since being promoted to the top TV job six years ago, Sweeney has steered Disney through the increasingly complex media landscape.
She oversaw an epic negotiation this year with Time Warner Cable that included unprecedented distribution rights to video-on-demand, and another negotiation that resulted in Disney pulling content from Google TV. She shook up the broadcast network's executive ranks, tapping ABC Family president Paul Lee to take the reins at ABC in July. On Dec. 3, she replaced former ABC News president David Westin with journalist and writer Ben Sherwood. Along the way, the company dove headfirst into the iPad app game ahead of rivals. "The iPad was a seminal moment for us," Sweeney says.
Married with two kids, Sweeney also recently assumed oversight of 10 ABC-owned stations while remaining a crucial ally to Disney president and CEO Robert Iger.
It's no wonder she has his ear: If Disney Media Networks were a company onto itself, at that $61 billion value (as estimated by Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan), it would have about five times the market capitalization of CBS.
Not that everything is perfect. ABC continues to be her unit's trouble spot, struggling to find a breakout show this fall, though it did boost Dancing With the Stars by casting Bristol Palin.
Most growth is found on the cable side. In February, the company will rebrand preschool block Playhouse Disney as Disney Junior in the first step toward building it into a stand-alone network.
"My priority is, always and forever, great storytelling," Sweeney says. "Strong, relevant characters married to a distribution strategy that allows us to stay connected to our consumers."
Colleagues describe her as somebody who doesn't micromanage; she hires smart leaders, then gives them clear goals, resources and support. A few years ago, Sweeney took up painting as a hobby.
"I told my art teacher, 'I can't paint because I don't know how to draw.' She said, 'You don't have to know how to draw to paint.' That was very freeing."
-- James Hibberd
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