Endeavor agency co-founder and TV rep bigwig Ari Emanuel today runs to the defense of HKO’ed Chris Albrecht by blogging on The Huffington Post. (See my own commentary at the end of this post…) Not only are the pair pals, but Emanuel and client Mark Wahlberg put Entourage on the air at the cable pay channel. And Ari is the inspiration for the series’ agent “Ari Gold”. Headlined “In Defense of Chris Albrecht,” Emanuel takes aim, without mentioning us by name, at Claudia Eller of the Los Angeles Times and myself. (My stories: What Happens In HBO, Stays In HBO… But Should It? and its followup Scandal-Plagued Chris Albrecht Dumped Before TW Shareholders Meeting; Eller’s are here: HBO Chief Accused Of Assault In 1991 and HBO Chief Executive Fired In Wake Of Arrest).
Posts Ari: “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. No one is arguing that. What happened outside the MGM Grand is inexcusable — and Chris has expressed his deep regret about it. But that wasn’t enough for those in the press who dug up a 16 year old incident, dusted off the cobwebs covering it, and suddenly created ‘a pattern’ of behavior that required the delivery of Chris’ head on a platter. 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. He has an amazing eye for talent, the ability to nurture that talent, and the patience to let outside-the-box shows find their audience. Without him, we wouldn’t have had The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, or Everyone Loves Raymond (which HBO produced). Having worked with HBO a great deal over the years, I can testify that it is not, as has been portrayed in the press, an ‘old boys’ club’ — just ask Carolyn Strauss, Sheila Nevins, or any of the other high-powered female executives who work there. Ours has traditionally been a very forgiving culture. 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?”
My commentary now. This comes from the guy who pressured all of Hollywood not to do business with Mel Gibson after his drunken anti-semitic rantings? I didn’t see any bit of forgiveness there. Also, Albrecht’s alleged assaults against women took place not during his leisure time but while he was on the company clock. That an accusation was made against him back in 1991 doesn’t make it any less valid. Yes, I did report info that there have been allegations of other incidents — at least two, “but I recall three,” according to one knowledgeable insider — involving Albrecht and women at HBO over the years. Yes, I did describe HBO’s mishandling of Albrecht’s past as Hollywood’s “old boy’s club” hard at work — because the bosses who protected him were all men as well. I suggest Emanuel not blame the media: we’re just the messengers. Also, Emanuel didn’t just fall off the turnip truck: probably Bewkes would have kept Albrecht on if 1) Chris didn’t have only 6 months left on his contract making it really cheap to let him go, and 2) Time Warner’s annual shareholders’ meeting was coming up May 18th, and 3) Jeff himself wasn’t about to take over the Big Media public company and didn’t want to come under fire for not kicking Albrecht to the curb eons ago. Finally, Ari might re-examine his apparent double standard: one for people with whom he has no financial connection, and another for those who help his profit margins.