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Chris Albrecht Out At HBO

Posted by: Jon Fine on May 10, 2007

In the end, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. HBO Chairman-CEO Chris Albrecht’s arrest there last weekend for allegedly assaulting a female companion led to his corporate ouster last night.

Among the contenders to replace him: Albrecht’s COO (now interim CEO) Bill Nelson; HBO marketing head Eric Kessler; and the cable net’s veteran communications chief Richard Plepler.

(Plepler’s outsized profile at HBO is perhaps best epitomized by the doctor on the Sopranos who treated Tony Soprano after Uncle Junior shot him in the first episode of the landmark show’s final season: his name was Dr. Lior Plepler.)

Wild cards in the succession race may include Colin Callender, who oversees HBO’s original movies, and Matt Blank, CEO of longtime rival cable net Showtime. Showtime’s won some traction recently with original programming like “Weeds,” and Blank, who started his career at HBO, may be itching for a higher-profile assignment.

Albrecht initially announced a leave of absence. But just after he did, the Los Angeles Times reported about another allegation of Albrecht erupting into violence against a woman in 1991. This incident that was handled internally at HBO—perhaps “covered up” is a better way of putting it—and, the Times reported, resulted in a payout to Albrecht’s victim that was between $400,000 and $500,000.

The Times reported that payout was “blessed” by current Time Warner President Jeff Bewkes, the well-regarded executive widely expected to be the conglomerate’s next Chairman-CEO, who was then a top HBO executive.

(This blog entry would be a shadow of its current self without the contributions of my colleague Tom Lowry. Thanks, Tom.)

Reader Comments

Luscious Nichols

May 10, 2007 11:11 AM

I agree with HBO's choice to remove Chris Albrecht.

And I disagree with the timing. HBO should have fired him back in 1991. But instead they chose to sweep his crime under the carpet by paying out somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000 to his victim on his behalf.

Why has it become okay for these large companies to protect and perpetuate violence against women by buying silence?

I think that HBO's behavior is disgusting.


May 10, 2007 11:19 AM

Good maybe now they can bring back Deadwood and I can watch HBO again. Retards!


May 10, 2007 1:26 PM

I wish someone would beat me, i could use the money.

Sheri Kelton

May 10, 2007 2:40 PM

Chris Albrecht is brilliant! Having joyfully worked for Albrecht for many years, I am here to say that this wonderful man is easily the very best executive in town. He has provided freedom of language and creative content for decades with A list talent and newcomers who worship him. He is a genuine leader in our community. He treated us all with respect and support. He is someone who has dedicated his life to a company that threw him away just when he needed them most. Too bad that this isolated incident was not handled better. But that just shows you that even when you do everything right for 25 years at a company like Chris did - there is still no gratitude. Chris took HBO from a movie channel to a powerhouse of original programming. He made HBO a home away from home. He is smart, trustworthy and kind. Working for this man was inspirational and he was sincerely loved & respected by everyone at HBO. Chris Albrecht has a fine legacy that anyone in any business could be more than proud of. I am so sorry to see him go. Chris Albrecht deserves much better.

Mark C

May 10, 2007 4:46 PM

Should've been canned when Carnivale was canceled.

Cara Dolch

May 11, 2007 12:26 PM

I agree with Sheri's comment, Chris Albrecht is a wonderful man. Chris and I dated and he was a complete gentleman with me. I think the media tends to over exaggerate when incidents like these occur.

Bob T

May 11, 2007 12:56 PM

I know Chris Albrecht. He is a brilliant man. He is a creative genius. He had everything the world can offer, money, fame, a great wife and two incredible daughters.
He chose to throw that all away for what men in general struggle with....pride.
HBO was dead wrong in covering this all up.
It is dead obvious that this was a patern and not an "incident". Cheating on your wife at your office and using your power to "get" are not an option that should be tolerated anywhere. Chris is not above the law, both civil and moral. Too say that Chris should not be punished for his actions is the same as feeling sorry for Paris Hilton. People are always complaining that celebrities and Athletes have a higher standard. They also have a higher paycheck and all the perks that go with the status as well. So, when one of them really screws up, they should be really punished. They want to be a celebrity example in their good times and for their accomplishments. It goes both ways.
Now, the bigger question, who else should be fired at HBO?
Jeff Bewkes first, and we can move down and up the food chain. They were more interested in using Chris to make money when all this began than doing the right thing. So now that Chis gets caught high profile, they crucify him in public?
No, they should all go.
I hope Chris , who again is one of the most intelligent and driven people I know, wakes up and is reborn a better man.
Remember, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

Cara Dolch

May 11, 2007 1:34 PM

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I agree with Sheri, Chris is a wonderful person. He and I dated and he never displayed violent tendencies around me. He's a great guy who has done a lot for HBO. He should be encouraged to seek help for his alcoholism, not abandoned after all he's done for HBO. It's simply wrong.

Wendy Fan

May 11, 2007 2:51 PM

A woman was assaulted here!!!!! For all you women who are applauding his professional skills etc, I wonder if he was going upside your head with a fist would you still think his work is brilliant. Cara, Sheri, get a clue!!!


May 11, 2007 6:01 PM

To anyone who wants to defend this guy...3 things...first, he was at a company event, and for him to be arrested, there had to be some witnesses. He was working. He assaults anyone,
co-worker or not, he is fired. Anybody else would be.

Second, maybe you should be assaulted by someone that is bigger and stronger than you, and have people who don't even know you leap to the guy's defense, before you go around devaluing women(or in the case of the women defending him ????, your fellow women) by saying "Oh, it was just a mistake. The poor guy was drunk. Don't punish him. After all, for a brutish thug, he is brilliant!"

Third, men don't hit women by accident. They do it because women usually don't have the physical strengh to fight back. They do it because they can, and they want to have power over a woman. She won't submit to their whims, so they beat her down. Do you honestly think this is the first time your good buddy ever hit that poor woman? If he lost control enough to do it in public, he's been doing it in private for a while. And if he assaulted another woman 16 years ago, he has probably hit a lot of other women inbetween. Why are you defending him? It's digusting!

Graham Shevlin

May 12, 2007 3:06 PM

Chris Albrecht may be brilliant (I don't know because I have never met him), but we now know that he assaults women (not just once, but twice for sure). That is criminal behaviour, period. Some people here need to dial back on the hagiographic worship and understand that nobody should be allowed to assault other people and not suffer consequences. The word, folks, is accountability.

Former HBO Subscriber

May 14, 2007 3:22 PM

With Chris Albrecht gone, can we have Carnivale back? Pretty please?

I canceled my HBO subscription when the show was canceled and, frankly, haven't seen any reason yet to resubscribe. A third season of Carnivale would do it for me.

Former Chauffeur & Friend

May 16, 2007 1:40 AM

Chris Albrecht made a terrible mistake....haven't we all?
Have we all been "thrown away" for a moment of upset or prevoked anger?? I think not!
High powered CEO's have tremendous pressures and responsibilities CONSTANTLY. To err is human, right or wrong... he just got caught.
If you think he was a warm and loving human being, he was. The Love for his daughter's and concern for their happiness and achievements goes way beyond most "High Powered" men AND women. He took time to "know" his girls and influence them with confidence and manners.
If you think he was a vicous reactionist...please look hard into a mirror and remember we "Are All Capable of Anything" under the right duress.
Chris was a people person, a listener and had a wonderful way of remembering people and names he seldom saw.
Colin Calender is NO CHRIS ALBRECHT...
I would trust Chris with my sister, even my Mother
and would not base my sole opinion on a "scorned" woman out for verbal revenge.
Good Luck, Mr. Albrecht....I know you will re-surface and brighten a more deserving corporations
image and the people who you come in contact with.

Deborah Scarborough

May 16, 2007 12:47 PM

I worked with Chris and with Sasha when the whole thing went down, back in the day. I don't know if it was true or not, the abuse allogations. But I do know that I loved every minute of my few associations with HBO and have always been proudest to have said I worked on those shows, above all others. The only thing I know for sure is that I am deeply saddened and frankly I hope that this is not the end of an era, because I truly believe that Chris was the backbone of the programming end of HBO. Also, I don't ever remember the Sasha incident being kept quiet. We all knew when it happened and it was a topic of many a debate. Let's all just hope that the very intelligent Chris surrounded himself with talented people who will carry on his legacy. HBO has raised the creative bar and I hope they continue to do so. Because... it's not just television...

Dave J

May 19, 2007 3:07 AM

Oh yes, Chris was such a great guy. He only assaulted two women (that we know of). What is wrong with you people defending his actions? Only a corporate suck ass would defend an abuser like Chris. We don't need to defend his actions by saying how great he was at HBO. There were serial killers who were pillars of society. If I was a shareholder, I wouldn't want a guy with this type of instability in a high powered position. Oh, but it wasn't Chris, it was the alcohol.. Here we go blaming alcohol again. You know something, alcohol is like having too much money or power, it just makes you more of what you already are. If you are an ass, it just makes you a bigger ass.

J. Courshon

June 1, 2007 7:51 AM

It's kind of fascinating how so many people here are railing against those who are saying kind things about Chris. So many are so quick to judge, when it is not truly your right to do so.

Did Chris screw up? Yes. Does he deserve endless condemnation and to have lost his position, from which he built HBO into the premiere cable channel that it is today? I don't think so.

I worked with Chris and many of the executives at HBO for quite a few years, and of nearly all the execs, Chris was among the best in temperament. Gracious, kind, and NOT prone to emotional outbusts as the LA Times claims. In all my years there, I NEVER heard him have an "outburst" once, unlike a couple other executives there. Anyone who's worked at HBO knows this to be true.

What is a shame, is that he fell off the wagon and assualted another person. For that, there is a price, and he is clearly paying that now (or overpaying it). But for people to speculate and suggest, as the poster above does, that he has probably been beating this woman and others, etc., is unbelievably unkind and undeserved.

Does Chris have unresolved anger issues, that are amplified by alcohol? It appears so. Truth is, most people have unresolved anger issues. This does not excuse his recent actions, but before you judge and condemn this man -- when you've never met him -- maybe take a look at your own imperfections first.

And "Bob T." above... while calling Chris a creative genius, you don't hesitate to pass moral judgement on him. Is this what your scripture teaches you?

Chris A.

June 20, 2007 10:54 AM

Chris Albrecht made a serious mistake....and yes I think that he needs to pay a price for his actions...however as a recovering person myself..I sure can't point a finger..really can any of us? Chris has a medically recognized disease that that in the end results in jails, institutions and death. Does that excuse his actions...absolutely not!


This is an opportunity for Chris to get right spiritually and make amends to those he has wronged. But from the here on NO MORE EXCUSES! He will have to work a program and begin to live each day spiritually fit. In closing Chris and I worked together a long time ago in Minnesota...and it was pretty funny that he and I had the same we have something else in common....but you know what...wierdly enough, all the terrible stuff that I did...and happened to me..led me to where I am today...

And that place is pretty good.

Good luck Chris


July 6, 2007 4:30 PM

Bring back Carnivale! He had a personal issue against this program... Maybe he was a creative genius, but he was dead-wrong on cancelling Carnivale.

Oh, and you never should raise your hand against a woman either!


July 8, 2007 11:35 AM

I love reading of the comments from former co-workers of Mr. Albrecht. These people appreciate the man's genius and creativity. However, they are all apparently idiots that cannot properly string together a sentence or spell to save their pathetic lives. But they sure do know a genius when they see one, even if he does have the nasty little habit of smacking around a woman or two.


July 21, 2007 5:00 PM

is he dutch?

london matthews

July 22, 2007 4:00 AM

i know chris from the equestrian jumper world where he his ex wife annie as well as both of his wonderfull daughters. i would easily take a bullet for this kind/generous/respectful/non material/horse and animal loving man. i met both his kind parents at the pool at the belagio hotel when my wife and i and the whole hunt-over barn crew all went to see the grand prix in las vegas-2000-or 2001-i forget which. annie ate over at our house many times and had psycho-theraphy with my talented therapist wife leslie. i taught little tess how to ride a bike in indio during the 9 week dessert circuit -feb-2000--this man is so genuine and down to earth...annie was his high school sweetheart--and he was an excellent equestrian jumper. i love this man so all you who do not know him---jump in a cold lake---ever since oj women get away with to much. hey i married a lesbian-i'm an active feminist--i beleive chris made a mistake yes BUT he could have been with a super model and he choose misty casaar whose cool son weston loved me and i him.please have compassiion for this man...i miss you chris and will always love you sir----london james matthews

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