I applaud the Los Angeles Times for breaking the Chris Albrecht / Sasha Emerson story. (I was advised by legal counsel to withhold my own reporting on it yesterday). So I’ll add a bit more to Claudia Eller’s account: I’m told by sources that there have been allegations of other incidents — at least two, “but I recall three,” according to one knowledgeable insider — involving Chris Albrecht and women at HBO over the years, all quietly “handled” by the cable pay channel with no obvious career repercussions for the 22-year HBO exec who rose to become chairman/CEO. The question now is whether that will change following his arrest on suspicion of physically assaulting his girlfriend during a working weekend in Las Vegas and his internal memo yesterday blaming alcohol and announcing a temporary leave of absence. The unfolding scandal jogged some memories, and people were recalling to me one past incident in particular: Albrecht’s alleged 1991 physical assault of his ex-lover and HBO subordinate Sasha Emerson, then a young and talented female exec working as senior vice president at HBO Independent Productions. In fact, I’m told an HBO executive later apologized to Emerson for shielding Albrecht at the expense of her job, saying “I look back and wonder why we covered it up back then.” The explanation appears obvious: Albrecht at the time was a real comer at HBO, and the Old Boy network kicked in. Or should it be renamed the Bad Boy network?
“HBO couldn’t keep the two of them together after he got physical with a subordinate so she got bought out. But he was the guy who should have been kicked out of there,” a source told me about the Albrecht/Emerson matter. When HBO decided to pay off Emerson’s multiyear contract rather than risk a scandal, one press account said she had exited “over differences of opinion with management.” Not only was that a lie, but such language can cast a shadow over the most promising young exec’s career. In Emerson’s case, she went on to have showbiz success but no longer works in Hollywood now. When I contacted Emerson yesterday, she told me she had no comment, adding “I respect your interest.” In recent days, insiders spoke to me about “Chris’s wild side,” especially when it comes to women, and agreed that HBO has overlooked it again and again. Regarding the incident in Las Vegas, HBO sources said Albrecht has been seeing his latest girlfriend, whom they describe as a Los Angeles model/actress, for the past six months to a year. The insiders told me he recently brought her to the Entourage third season premiere on April 5th at The Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. As for this past weekend, the pair had gone to a number of the after-parties following HBO’s pay-per-view televised De La Hoya / Mayweather boxing match at the MGM Grand Hotel before the alleged assault and Albrecht’s 3 a.m. Sunday arrest. By Monday, HBO sources were quick to tell me and others that Albrecht’s girlfriend is not pressing charges against him. But that may not matter because the police reportedly have witnesses. Albrecht’s Las Vegas attorney, famed David Chesnoff, gave me the standard issue: “People shouldn’t rush to judgment until all the facts are in.” But I have to ask: Will those facts ever come out after HBO “handles” this current situation, too?