Eileen O’Neill Departing Discovery Communications

Longtime Discovery Communications executive Eileen O’Neill will officially leave the programmer on May 1.

That date will mark the versatile and highly respected O'Neill's 25th anniversary with the company.  Over the course, she has run both Discovery Channel and TLC.

Last August, O’Neill, who started with the company as an intern before rising through the ranks, was given a new assignment to run Discovery’s studio operations. She was scheduled to assume that role in March. Marjorie Kaplan  served as interim president for the Discovery Channel after the August announcement keeping the seat warm for former Disney Channel executive Rich Ross, who began officially leading Discovery with the new year.  

O'Neill's exit continues a changing of the guard among veteran programming executves  Earlier this week, Van Toffler and Larry Jones announced they were stepping down as president of MTV Networks Music & Logo Group and leader of TV Land, respectively, as embattled Viacom restructured its operations.

Below is O'Neill's letter to staff sent on Friday morning (Feb. 20):

Dear Teams,

Hope this note finds East Coasters staying warm and West Coasters not acting too smug:)

I want you to know, effective May 1, 2015, I will no longer be at Discovery Communications. The date is significant as it marks my 25th anniversary with this truly amazing company (not including the four months of unpaid internship labor that preceded my hiring date!).  

I realize not everyone will miss my emoticon-laced memos, sent at all times of the night and day, but I know I will miss you guys.  Through incredible successes, and not a few nail-biting challenges, we always delivered as a team.

Together, we still hold the highest prime delivery this century of any reality show on all major ad-supported cable networks for W25-54 (4.1M) and W18-49 (4.6M)  (Jon and Kate); we introduced a sweet baker and a couple of fast and loud car guys to our global audiences; we celebrated five more births with Jim and Michelle Duggar since we first met them in 2004; we held hands and held our collective breath watching Felix Baumgartner ascend to Emmy-winning heights and Nik Wallenda power-walk across the Grand Canyon and into history; we cheered as Prince William and Kate said “I Do” to our global audiences Live; we said prayers for and with our talent (both crew and on-air characters) as they ventured to some of the harshest locations around the world, some never to return; one dark September day, some of us huddled with colleagues and strangers in offices, waiting for an all clear signal that it was safe to leave One Discovery Place; we kept audiences hooked on chopper builders and gold seekers; we took risks to find the first images of a giant squid and we crashed a 727 airplane for the sake of aviation safety; we found a little couple big on heart and a medium full of love; we never shied from controversy whether it was with Muslims in Michigan, Sarah in Alaska or Amish folk in places which surprised; and, of course, we unleashed mega sharks (and a seal named Snuffy) for record-breaking Shark Weeks.

This isn’t so much a goodbye note as it is a note to thank you.  I have always said that I was spoiled by working with the best teams in the business; that truth has never diminished.

With unabashed admiration and affection,