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HBO Documentary President Sheila Nevins Stepping Down

UPDATED with comments from HBO and Sheila Nevins

Sheila Nevins, the president of HBO documentary films, is leaving the cabler after 38 years, Variety has learned.

Nevins, 78, has presided over the non-fiction arm of the cabler to tremendous acclaim, producing over 1,000 documentaries and amassing a collection of awards for her groundbreaking work. She holds the record for the most Emmy Awards for any individual (32 trophies), along with 42 prestigious Peabody Awards. Her projects have won 26 Academy Awards, and she also earned a lifetime achievement Emmy from the TV Academy in 2005.

Nevins will remain with HBO through the end of March.

“The word legend is often thrown around loosely in our business, but in Sheila’s case it actually applies,” says HBO chairman- CEO Richard Plepler. “She has been an integral part of HBO’s extraordinary success. Her impact, not only in the documentary field, but throughout popular culture is nothing short of remarkable, and she has built an extraordinary team that is second to none in our industry. To say that we will miss her is insufficient, but we are thrilled that she will continue to wear her artistic hat on a number of documentary projects for HBO in the coming years.”

Nevins was candid about stepping down “to pursue the rest of my life.” But she also expressed her loyalty to the company she has called home for decades.

“HBO is in my DNA and I will always consider it to be my alma mater,” she said.

In an interview with the New York Times published Dec. 16, Nevins said, “There’s something exciting about leaving a job. I can’t explain it. I have deprived my life of a life. All I did was work. I was, like, born at HBO and I don’t have to die there. If I stayed any longer, I probably would have died at my desk. I just regret that there’s so little time left.”

Throughout her long career at HBO, Nevins has built up a formidable reputation as the doyenne of documentaries, shepherding a long list of projects including “Bright Lights,” about the relationship between Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds; “Going Clear,” the Scientology expose; and “Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Laden.”

Nevins joined HBO in 1979 as the director of documentary programming, then left briefly to work as a producer. She returned in 1985 as the VP of documentary programming, and was elevated to her current role in 2004.

A graduate of Barnard College and the Yale School of Drama, Nevins also recently published a book, “You Don’t Look Your Age… and Other Fairy Tales.”

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