UPDATE: TOLDJA! It’s Official: Chris Albrecht To Head Starz

StarzMONDAY PM EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Liberty Media chairman John Malone and CEO Greg Maffei are installing former HBO chairman/CEO Chris Albrecht as head of Starz. Sources tell me Albrecht’s title will be CEO (and maybe also president), and the announcement could come as soon as this week. Starz previous CEO Robert Clasen is retiring. chris AlbrechtAlbrecht’s appointment is further proof that Starz is fast-tracking its move into more original programming, which was Albrecht’s specialty at HBO ffor 22 years beginning in 1985. In 2007, Albrecht was asked to resign before the Time Warner shareholders meeting after his arrest for allegedly assaulting a woman in Las Vegas brought previous accusations to light in the media. Despite his personal problems, which his pals say he has now overcome, Albrecht is considered a creative and management genius –and just what Starz needs to bring it to the next level.

After he unceremoniously left HBO, Albrecht was named president of IMG Global Media and IMG Entertainment in September 2007 as well as a special limited partner of Forstmann Little & Co. But Albrecht left a year later when IMG/Forstmann didn’t deliver on the financial promises made to him, like a $250 million fund for investments in media and entertainment content which Albrecht would oversee. But it was while there that Albrecht first met with Starz execs and later again when Albrecht founded Foresee Entertainment, an independent content creator. Soon, Foresee had its first series commitment — a Starz hour-long NYC fashion drama.

News reports have said Starz intends to have at least 90 minutes’ worth of original programming on the air weekly by 2011. Since his break with HBO, he’s been waiting for the right opportunity to come along, and this sounds like it. Albrecht, of course, oversaw HBO’s hugely successful and often high quality original series like Sex And The City, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Band Of Brothers, The Wire, Da Ali G Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, EntourageDeadwood, and others to re-brand HBO as much more than just showing movies. He also propelled HBO into a juggernaut at Emmy time, and soon the pay channel was beating oiut the broadcast networks for awards.