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By Kimberly Nordyke
Susanne Daniels is resigning her post as president of entertainment at Lifetime to spend more time with her family.
Daniels will continue in her position until a successor is found and then will remain a part of Lifetime in a consulting role.
The news comes as Lifetime is on a roll with its original programming, including “Army Wives,” which set records with its second-season premiere this month. The network also just picked up its first original sitcom in a decade, “Rita Rocks,” and has been ramping up its talent quotient with its original movies, including the upcoming “Living Proof,” which Renee Zellweger, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are executive producing.
Daniels and Lifetime president and CEO Andrea Wong also forged a deal with the Weinstein Co. that will see “Project Runway” moving to the cabler in November.
Although the announcement of Daniels’ exit came out of the blue, there had been rumors about a possible departure a year ago, when Wong was brought in from ABC to replace the previous president and CEO, Betty Cohen.
All parties were quick, however, to dispel any notion of friction between the two.
“I love it here, I love working with Andrea, and I love the whole team,” Daniels told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m going to miss it very much, and I hope I can be valuable as a consultant. Lifetime has tremendous momentum right now, and it’s really going places.”
But Daniels said she really connected with something she had read about how women “can have it all but not at the same time.” She decided she needed “a temporary mommy break,” putting an emphasis on the fact that she intends to return to work, probably in a year’s time.
Wong praised Daniels in a memo to staffers Wednesday, saying she was “heartbroken” about the resignation.
Daniels lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Greg Daniels, co-creator and executive producer of Fox’s “King of the Hill” and executive producer of NBC’s “The Office,” and their children. Greg Daniels also is overseeing the upcoming “Office” spinoff.
Daniels, a one-time president of entertainment at WB Network, joined Lifetime in 2005, and the network credits her with helping grow its viewership, especially among younger women. The network ranks fourth for June among all ad-supported cable networks.
“Susanne came to me recently to share her decision to resign her current position at Lifetime to spend more time with her family, which includes three fantastic children,” Wong wrote. “Susanne is an incredibly passionate person in everything she tackles, whether casting a movie, identifying a script or making a landmark deal, and I respect and admire the fact that such great passion currently lies in being with her family.”
Asked how her resignation will affect her team at the network, Daniels said, “Anybody who comes in would be lucky to have them.”
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