At TCA today, Starz chief Chris Albrecht responded to comments made by HBO’s Michael Lombardo over a supposed mailer for Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse which dinged HBO’s sports comedy Ballers. A press member at yesterday’s HBO session claimed that they received a press release for Survivor’s Remorse which called out Ballers; that critics liked Survivor’s Remorse more than Ballers. The reporter asked Dwayne Johnson about Starz’s ding toward his show.
Johnson largely dodged the question, but HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo admitted it was the first time he heard of the Starz stunt and retorted,”When you said it, I was saying, ‘What’s Survivor’s Remorse’? And I guess that says it all. 9 million people are watching Ballers” adding that Starz’s PR move was “an odd marketing tactic.”
Albrecht was asked about the hoopla toward the end of his speech this morning, explaining, “So, I landed in town late last night and saw this nonsense. I have nothing but respect for Michael Lombardo and shame on whoever framed that question. These people don’t need to be ambushed by a silly question. I haven’t seen Ballers, but I assume it’s good, because HBO picked it up for a second season. We’re proud of Survivor’s Remorse. One of our people was pitching the show a little too ardently, perhaps based on some meta critics score.”
Albrecht assured that there’s no Coke-Pepsi rivalry between HBO and Starz, saying “There’s no feud certainly” then urged the TCA press corps, “Please, I’m serious. People are here to talk about their shows. Behave yourselves. Ask appropriate questions.”
A Starz insider tells Deadline that there was never a press release calling out Ballers, rather it was a situation where a junior publicist at the network was pitching a couple of critics.