Legendary Entertainment President Chris Albrecht has been put on administrative leave after details of a 1991 incident during his tenure at HBO surfaced in an upcoming book.
A representative at Legendary confirmed that Albrecht is on leave, which was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Legendary had no other comment on the matter. But the action by the company comes on the heels of revelations in a soon-to-be-published history of HBO that recounts how the network paid a settlement of at least $400,000 to another executive, Sasha Emerson, after she alleged that Albrecht shoved and choked her.
At the time of the 1991 incident, Emerson was a senior vice president at HBO Independent Productions and reported directly to Albrecht, who was head of programming. The pair had been in a consensual affair outside of their marriages.
The book, “It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO” by Felix Gillette and John Koblin, reports that Albrecht allegedly disparaged Emerson in meetings at the network, then owned by Time Warner, after she exited.
The book also alleges that the HBO board was never told of the settlement and that the departure of Emerson from the company was not explained internally.
Albrecht, 70, denied the new details in the book in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
Awards still help draw attention to shows, even in a time of disruption for the TV business.
“After more than 30 years an old, flawed story is now being refurbished and recycled for the sake of sales. I have sincerely apologized to those whom I offended with disrespect and utterly unacceptable behavior. But that doesn’t sell books or generate media attention. Some things do indeed age well; but bad reporting does not,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht’s suspension comes months after private equity giant Apollo Global Management and affiliated funds agreed to make a $760-million investment in the Burbank-based company in exchange for a minority stake.
The company did not disclose the valuation, but people familiar with its finances last year said Legendary’s value was about $2 billion.
Albrecht was a massively successful executive at HBO, leading the network into its era of creative dominance in the television industry with such hits at “The Sopranos.”
The Queens, N.Y., native eventually stepped down as chairman of HBO after he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend in 2007. Police broke up an altercation outside the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas between Albrecht and the woman. At the time, he admitted to a drinking problem.
The incident with Emerson, who never filed a police report, was not reported until Albrecht’s 2007 arrest.
Albrecht went on to become chief executive at the premium cable TV network Starz, a position he held from 2010 to 2019. He joined Legendary Entertainment in late 2019.
Times staff writer Ryan Faughnder contributed to this report.
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Stephen Battaglio writes about television and the media business for the Los Angeles Times out of New York. His coverage of the television industry has appeared in TV Guide, the New York Daily News, the New York Times, Fortune, the Hollywood Reporter, Inside.com and Adweek. He is also the author of three books about television, including a biography of pioneer talk show host and producer David Susskind.
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