Just two years into the job, Carolina Lightcap has stepped down as president of Disney Channels Worldwide, effective immediately.
The Disney/ABC Television Group on Thursday confirmed Lightcap’s departure, adding that Gary Marsh will succeed her in the job. Marsh will continue to serve as the unit’s chief creative officer.
His oversight includes the top-rated Disney Channel, as well as the emerging networks Disney XD and Disney Junior.
Lightcap’s departure is nearly as unexpected as was her appointment to the position back in November 2009. At the time, it was widely assumed that Marsh would take over for the departing Rich Ross, who was tapped by Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger to chair Disney's studio division.
Insiders suggest that Marsh actually turned down the job when it was offered to him at that time, saying he didn’t relish the extensive travel that came with the position, as it would have kept him away from his family. Marsh is also said to have been unwilling to ease up on his creative oversight; he has a hand in every aspect of production, from casting to talent relations.
“We’re sorry that Carolina has decided to leave us and appreciate her many valuable contributions over the years,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group. “She will be missed.”
For her part, Lightcap said that the time was right to “move on to my next challenge.” She joined Disney in 2000, and for the first eight years of her tenure served as senior vice president, programming and creative affairs, Disney Channels Latin America/Disney Media Networks, and CMO of Disney Latin America.
Marsh, who was the driving force behind Disney Channel franchises such as High School Musical, Hannah Montana, and Lizzie McGuire, now boasts full creative oversight for Disney’s global kids TV business. The DCW portfolio includes 100 entertainment outlets distributed in 169 countries.
He joined Disney in 1988 as executive director.
Sweeney said there was “no one better suited” to manage DCW than Marsh. “He not only understands the zeitgeist of kids’ culture, he helped create it. Our business couldn’t be in better hands.”