ABC Studios creative exec Franz to exit

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Julia Franz is exiting her post as ABC Studios' top creative executive.

Franz has served as executive vp overseeing development and current for the past four years. She will stay on for the next nine months, working with ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz and her team to wrap this year's development slate and ensure a seamless transition.

A replacement for Franz, who will be returning to work shortly from a maternity leave, is expected to be named soon.

"I've been thinking about it and processing my decision for the last year, so I didn't come to it lightly," Franz said of her departure. "Anyone close to me knows how much I've loved my run at Disney, but I feel it's time to pursue the next challenge in my career."

Franz said only that "I look forward to the chance to work on a smaller scale that allows deeper personal involvement on individual projects."

The timing of Franz's decision to exit stems from the fact that her contact is up in June. "That prompted me to let Mark know as soon as possible," she said. "Mark has been an incredible boss, mentor and partner all in one, and I am very grateful to him."

During the past four years, Franz has been shepherding the run of such ABC Studios staples as "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives," "Scrubs" and "According to Jim."

Her team developed and launched such returning series as ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" and "Ugly Betty," CBS' "Criminal Minds" and "Ghost Whisperer" and Lifetime's "Army Wives" as well as promising ABC freshmen "Private Practice," "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Samantha Who?" which have been renewed for a second season. Currently, she is overseeing a slate of 14 pilots and presentations for next season.

"She has been my partner in crime with whom we've had the best four years at the studio," Pedowitz said. "I wish her the best."

Franz was named executive vp and head of creative at ABC Studios in July 2004. She expanded her responsibilities to include the studio's current department in 2005.

Before that, she spent 13 years rising though Touchstone TV's creative executive ranks and was instrumental in the development of such series as "Scrubs," "My Wife and Kids," "Jim," "8 Simple Rules," "Less Than Perfect" and "Hope and Faith."

"I grew up loving TV and movies," Franz said in 2001 when she was featured on The Hollywood Reporter's Next Generation list. "I didn't know a thing about how TV shows are made, but I knew I wanted to be a part of it."
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