NEW YORK — The story of Lifetime Networks took a surprise twist of its own Wednesday when Entertainment President Susanne Daniels announced that she was leaving her post.
Daniels, who has overseen programming for Lifetime Television and Lifetime Movie Network for the last three years, developed the hit show "Army Wives" for the resurgent network.
The veteran entertainment executive said that, after working in the industry for the last two decades, she wanted to spend more time with her family.
"I'm just going to take a little bit of time and be a mom, and then I'd like to work again," Daniels said in an interview. "I just think I need to take a break."
The Lifetime executive has three children with her husband, Greg Daniels, the executive producer of "The Office," who is working on a spinoff of the NBC series.
Daniels says she has agreed to stay on until her successor is found and plans to continue working with Lifetime as a consultant.
Her departure comes as Lifetime has been enjoying renewed momentum. The second season of "Army Wives" premiered this month to record viewership, beating out its basic cable competition with 4.5 million viewers in prime time. And the network is poised for more buzz in the fall, when pop culture phenomenon "Project Runway" comes to Lifetime.
In an e-mail to employees, Chief Executive Andrea Wong said she was heartbroken about Daniels' decision to leave, calling their collaboration "one of the highlights of my career."
"While this is very sad news, Susanne is leaving us in a position of great strength," Wong said.
Since taking over leadership of both networks last spring, Wong brought in a slate of new executives but repeatedly expressed support for Daniels' work. Daniels' contract is up in August, and she said she began contemplating making a change as she considered signing her new deal.
Daniels came to Lifetime after rising through the ranks at the now-defunct WB network, where she developed shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Dawson's Creek."
She said she hoped to return to work in a year or so.
"In my head, I'll be knocking on doors then," she said.