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ESPN’s John Skipper steps down, citing addiction problem

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ESPN’s John Skipper, pictured at a benefit event in New York in 2014, resigned from his job, saying he needed to “take care” of his substance addiction. (Robin Platzer/Twin Images/UPPA/Zuma Press/TNS)
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Friends and colleagues of John Skipper are surprised by the ESPN honcho’s sudden departure — and it’s not because of sexual misconduct.

Keith Olbermann, Dick Vitale and Jemele Hill, who shared supportive comments on social media, were among those shocked by Skipper’s seemingly out-of-nowhere resignation from his posts as president of ESPN and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks on Monday.

“I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction,” he said in a statement. “I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.”

George Bodenheimer, ESPN president from 1998 to 2011, will take over as the acting chairman for the next 90 days to help Disney CEO Bob Iger find a replacement, CNN reported.

“I join John Skipper’s many friends and colleagues across the company in wishing him well during this challenging time,” Iger said. “I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family.”

Some sources said Skipper’s news is in no way related to the recent announcement that Disney would acquire most of 21st Century Fox, which brings nearly two dozen regional sports networks once owned by Fox under ESPN’s umbrella.

S.F. JUDGE RETIRES

Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is leaving his office, after more than three decades, in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations.

In a statement issued Monday, he said, “I cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle. Nor would such a battle be good for my beloved federal judiciary.”

His resignation, effective immediately, comes after the Washington Post and other outlets reported that 15 women — including law clerks and a judge — claimed he made sexual remarks, showed them pornography or kissed or groped them, Bay City News Service reports.

Last week, Chief 9th Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas referred the allegations to the Judicial Council of the New York-based 2nd Circuit for investigation.

Kozinski, 67, was appointed to the post at age 35 in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan. At the time, he was the youngest federal appeals court judge in the nation.

QUICK TAKES

Former Vice President Joe Biden is coming to San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center on Jan. 9 to promote his memoir “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose.” Tickets, which include a copy of the book and range from $75 to $600, go on sale at noon Wednesday at $75 to $600 at jccsf.org/arts.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Reality star Jenelle Evans is 26. … Actress Marla Sokoloff is 37. … Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is 37. … Actress Alyssa Milano is 45. … Magician Criss Angel is 50. … Actor Mike Lookinland is 57…. Actress Cicely Tyson is 93.

— Staff, wire report

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