Home Box Office co-president and general counsel Harold Akselrad is leaving the pay service to pursue other personal interests after 25 years with the company.
Akselrad leaves the company having recently concluded negotiations with numerous theatrical studios suppliers, including Dreamworks, Universal, and Fox, that will ensure the flow of top Hollywood titles on the 30-milion subs, according to the network.
Akselrad, who began his HBO career in June 1983 as associate counsel for litigation, was one of three HBO executives named co-president of the network in June 2007 -- along with marketing and distribution leader Eric Kessler and programming boss Richard Plepler -- a month after the dismissal of former HBO president Chris Albrecht due to his involvement in a physical altercation with his girlfriend after the Floyd Mayweather- Oscar De La Hoya Cinco De Mayo fight in Las Vegas.
Prior to becoming co-president, Akselrad was named general counsel & executive president of legal, business affairs and film programming in 2002, responsible for all HBO’s legal aspects as well as the network’s programming operation, business affairs, production and administration.
In May 1986, Akselrad was named vice president and chief counsel of litigation before assuming the senior vice president of business affairs position in March 1989. A decade later he was named executive vice president of business Affairs.
“Hal’s contributions to HBO are simply too enormous to enumerate here, but it is clear that his positive influence on HBO will continue for many years to come,” HBO chairman and CEO Bill Nelson in a statement. “With a keen understanding of our business, relevant technology, and the law, and, the way all three interact, Hal guided the work associated with our long-term film deals and other key corporate transactions. It is not an exaggeration to say that he labored tirelessly to secure the present and future of our business,”
This marks the third major executive defection from HBO’s ranks this year: HBO Entertainment president Carolyn Strauss left her post in March, although she still has ties to the programmer. Last month, HBO Films president Colin Callender left the network to create his own entertainment company.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.