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.)