CEOs Gone Wild: Chris Albrecht
Smell of Schadenfreude hangs around former HBO honcho.
In May 2007, Chris Albrecht, the 54 year-old CEO and chairman of HBO (TWX), was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, Karla Jensen, in the parking lot of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The Oscar De La Hoya/Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight had ended a few hours earlier, and Albrecht must have been really inspired by what he saw in the ring.
Shortly thereafter, Chris Albrecht left his post at HBO and sent the following email to colleagues:
Subject: Message to HBO Colleagues and Friends
My colleagues and friends:
I am deeply sorry for what occurred in
While I am not at liberty to discuss the incident as the district attorney and my lawyer are still determining the facts, it is my hope to do so in the near future.
One of "the facts" is that Albrecht was charged with "unlawful grabbing," pleaded no contest, and paid a $1000 fine.
Another fact is that Albrecht and Jensen are now engaged.
Subsequently, Albrecht began a relationship with IMG Global Media. He was hired on to head the company, a division of IMG Worldwide.
CEO Teddy Forstmann launched a $250 million media and entertainment fund for Albrecht to expand IMG's media and entertainment properties.
Albrecht invested $5 million of it in Slamball, essentially a 30-minute basketball game played on a court made of trampolines.
IMG and Albrecht parted ways less than a year later. In a joint statement, Forstmann and Albrecht said that the separation was "on an amicable basis" and that they were "regretful that the association was unable to work."
Thankfully, Albrecht's legacy at IMG will live on, as he was able to finagle a deal before leaving with cable channel Versus (formerly the Outdoor Life Network) to broadcast Slamball starting this fall.
Is Chris Albrecht as villainous as the media has made him out to be?
Ari Emmanuel, a founder of the
"Chris Albrecht is my friend, and I'm appalled at the way he has been treated by the press. He is an alcoholic who fell off the wagon and made a terrible mistake.
"Chris Albrecht, like the rest of us, is not a perfect person. But he is a brilliant executive who helped turn HBO from a place to watch movies, stand-up comedy, and boxing into the home for some of the most creative and challenging original programming in the history of television... Without him, we wouldn't have had The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, or Everybody Loves Raymond (which HBO produced).
If Hollywood is going to give Mel Gibson a second chance, and sports fans are going to cheer on stars like Jason Kidd, Latrell Sprewell, and Stephen Jackson who have made similar mistakes, why not Chris Albrecht?"
Emmanuel makes a valid point. The smell of Schadenfreude seems to hang in the air when a corner-office millionaire gets caught with his pants down, but it only lends cred to actors and athletes.
Chris Albrecht had a drug problem. While he may have been a CEO who "went wild," he's since found a way to deal with that problem.
Good news for those of us breathlessly awaiting the advent of Slamball.
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