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Another Disney Executive Leaves for the Internet

March 29, 2000|SALLIE HOFMEISTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Joining the march of traditional media executives jumping into the Internet business, Patricia Fili-Krushel resigned Tuesday from Walt Disney Co. to become president and chief executive of WebMD Health, the television and Internet arm of Healtheon/WebMD Corp.

Fili-Krushel, 46, ends a seven-year run at Disney-owned ABC that started as head of daytime programming and ended as president of ABC Television Network, which moved from third to first in the ratings during her tenure, with the success of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

Fili-Krushel is the latest in a series of high-level departures from Disney, whose stock price is only recently recovering from a deep downturn. ABC's rebound factored into Disney's turnaround.

Fili-Krushel joins a legion of old-media executives who have tied their fortunes to the Internet, including a host of Disney executives.

"It's the future," said Fili-Krushel, who said the opportunity to build a company from the ground up was the biggest factor in her decision to leave ABC.

She acknowledged that the scheduled move this fall of ABC Inc. from New York to Disney's base in Burbank was also a factor. She now will remain in New York.

Aggressive acquisitions have turned Healtheon/WebMD Corp. into a top-20 Internet site and the top-ranked health destination on the Web. Fili-Krushel will program the Internet site and manage the company's 50% interest in the Health channel, which will be renamed WebMD Television. News Corp. contributed its 50% interest in Health for a 10% stake in Healtheon/WebMD.

The company also will have half-hour health programs on Fox News and Fox Sports and an international channel with News Corp.

Fili-Krushel's division is one of two. The other is devoted to automating through the Internet the paperwork associated with doctor visits, insurance coverage, lab tests and prescription sales.

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