It’s not often that Big Media companies do the right thing, and it often takes them years, but occasionally it does happen. So it is with HBO and Michael Fuchs. Almost 11 1/2 years after Fuchs was unceremoniously fired from Time Warner, the corporate giant is finally recognizing his singular contribution to the success of HBO. I’m told that HBO just made an internal announcement that, on June 11th, the state of the art theater atop HBO’s headquarters will be renamed the Michael Fuchs Theater. There’ll be a nice event in Fuchs’ honor, complete with HBO veterans from inside and outside the company as well as a clip reel. It’s easy to look at HBO now and to think that Jeff Bewkes and then Chris Albrecht were responsible for all that success. But before them, and mentoring them, was Fuchs who ran HBO at the old Time Inc. and then at Time Warner, serving as HBO’s chairman and CEO starting in October 1984 until November 1995. Long before The Sopranos and Sex In The City and Sacha Baron Cohen, Fuchs had the idea for HBO to do more than just run threatrical films. He was responsible for greenlighting HBO’s first waves of celebrated comedy specials (he started Chris Rock on HBO), sports spectaculars and original programming (like The Larry Sanders Show and Oz). It was under Fuch that HBO began competing with the networks for Emmy wins. For those keeping score, Fuchs in May 1995 added the chairmanship of Warner Music Group to his portfolio, becoming responsible for the overall management of the two divisions for the world’s leading entertainment conglomerate. But Fuchs tripped on the corporate tightrope act when his rat bastard boss and pal Jerry Levin betrayed him. So Fuchs took a tragic Wallenda-like fall in November 1995. After more than 20 years in the entertainment industry, he bid it goodbye; since then, he has been overseeing investments and pursuing philanthropy. I say Fuchs should be lured back to showbiz to run something big or interesting.
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