HBO announced its first post-Chris Albrecht move, bumping Big Love to Mondays on June 11, when its second season bows. EVP of program planning David Baldwin tells the New York Post, "Sooner or later, we couldn’t run HBO with having just a couple of nights of programming and the rest of the nights reruns."
Meanwhile, the horse race to replace Albrecht now includes Tom Freston, according to Newsweek‘s Johnnie Roberts, who says the former MTVN/Viacom exec is a contender with "considerable buzz" because "he’s a widely popular and out-of-work executive who enjoys a close friendship with [Time Warner pres/COO Jeff] Bewkes." Freston responds: "This is the first I’ve heard of it. No one has had any discussions with me about it."
The article weighs internal candidates for Albrecht’s former job including distribution president Eric Kessler, a "tricky situation" because he reports to acting HBO head Bill Nelson, also in the running. "Still, Kessler’s strength as a marketer with creative flair positions him as a strong choice for a bigger job in the looming management shift," Roberts comments.
Variety notes reactions on Albrecht’s ouster from its talent: Bill Maher calls Albrecht "a genius television programmer, a great friend and a good person. It’s a shame that the same sort of ‘gotcha,’ rush-to-judgment mentality that has infected politics has also come to show business." Deadwood producer David Milch, whose upcoming John From Cininnati is HBO’s great white hope when it premieres immediately after The Sopranos‘ finale on June 10, noted: "All these people saying [Time Warner] should have forgiven him, what they’re really saying is the corporation should have kept him sick."
Milch, also a recovering addict, also spoke to Newsweek about the management crisis at HBO. Asked if he’s concerned about the "quality at HBO down the road," he responded: "No. Because I know Carolyn. And if you were to assign percentages to the people I’m in contact with at HBO, it’s always been 90% with Carolyn and 10% with Chris, although of course his 10% was always the decisive 10."
He also said Albrecht had committed to two 2-hour Deadwood movies "unless I’m told otherwise," and explains (sort of) his surfing-as-metaphysics series: "John has been sent for some purpose, at a specific time and at a specific place. He doesn’t understand it, and neither does the audience, but it does become clearer. In the sixth episode, John will begin to speak of his father and of 9/11. Everyone around him assumes that he’s talking about the 9/11 we know. But he’s actually talking about a 9/11 to come."