Hollywood Scandals: It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO–New Book about Chris Albrecht Leads to his Leave of Absence

Placed on Leave at Legendary

According to material from forthcoming book about HBO, the former network chair allegedly disparaged staffer who took settlement after he choked her.

The suspension comes as a new book, It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO by Felix Gillette and John Koblin, reveals new details about how Albrecht disparaged a staffer who exited HBO following a settlement that was brokered by HBO.

A Legendary spokesperson said that Albrecht has been placed on leave of absence, and declined to comment further.

The incident, which allegedly took place in her office in the summer of 1991, months after Albrecht and Emerson, who were both married at the time, ended their consensual affair, according to the book. In the immediate aftermath, Emerson detailed the incident to a friend as well as to HBO’s Michael Fuchs. A police report was never filed.

“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 in a statement.

Emerson, following mediation with HBO, took a settlement and left the network, the book notes. The settlement was never revealed to the HBO board and Emerson’s departure was not explained internally.

Albrecht was then moved to reporting to Bridget Potter. Albrecht at the time was in charge of originals and was working with Emerson on HBO Independent Productions (Roc, Martin).

It’s Not TV, due November 1 via Penguin Random House, reveals through extensive reporting and interviews with at least one witness that Albrecht would disparage Emerson in meetings with TV writers and producers following her exit in behavior that one staffer dubbed “vile.”

The Los Angeles Times reported in 2007 that she received at least $400,000.

Emerson, who spoke with the authors, said that years later she still can’t bear to feel anything constricting her throat, including the strap of a bike helmet.

In the book, Albrecht — via his lawyer — disputes what occurred in Emerson’s office in the summer of 1991. “He rejects and disagrees with the characterization of what occurred” and declined to comment further.

The book also revisits Albrecht’s public arrest after he seen by police choking his then-girlfriend Karla Jensen in Las Vegas. The incident prompted Albrecht to resign from HBO.

After long and successful tenure at Starz, Albrecht was promoted to run Legendary TV in early 2021 when he was tasked with leading the Wanda Group-controlled studio’s international and domestic arms.

He first joined Legendary in December 2019 after he was pushed out at Starz following a 10-year run leading the premium cable network. Infighting between Albrecht and new corporate parents Lionsgate led to his ouster. Albrecht has since inked deals with foreign companies to develop premium scripted shows and handed out a few domestic script deals as his tenure thus far has been unremarkable. It’s also worth noting that at the time of his hiring at Legendary that a handful of creators and executives were vocal about not wanting to work with Albrecht, whose previous history with women were the subject of coverage in the tabloids as well as in the entertainment press.