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Nelson Succeeds Albrecht Atop HBO

HBO has tapped its current COO, Bill Nelson, to succeed the ousted Chris Albrecht as Chairman/CEO.

The network promoted the other three lead internal candidates for the job--Harold Akselrad, Eric Kessler and Richard Plepler--to Co-Presidents of the company and named Michael Lombardo to oversee programming from the West Coast, reporting to Plepler.

The announcements were made Tuesday by Time Warner Chairman/CEO Dick Parsons and President/COO Jeff Bewkes.

Nelson, an HBO veteran since 1984, when he joined as vice president and assistant controller, has been acting unofficially as CEO since Albrecht left the company May 9 after a much-publicized fight with his girlfriend in Las Vegas.

Nelson has held the COO role since 2002, overseeing marketing and affiliate relations, home video distribution, movie acquisitions, finance, legal and human resources.

Having the trio of co-presidents reporting into Nelson is a change from the structure under Albrecht, who came up in the business as a programmer.
While he was CEO, Nelson and Plepler, the EVP of the company, reported to Albrecht. Akselrad, the company's general counsel and executive VP of legal affairs, and Kessler, president of sales and marketing reported to Nelson.

The three essentially keep their duties while taking on added responsibilities, with Nelson being upped.
Most significantly, Plepler will have programming reporting to him and manage Lombardo, who is upped to president, Programming Group and West Coast Operations.

Lombardo, who will also report to Akselrad on legal and business matters, was last EVP of Business Affairs, Production and Programming Operations. Now reporting to him are Colin Callender, president of HBO Films; Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports; Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentaries & Family; and Carolyn Strauss, president of HBO Entertainment.

"Bill Nelson is a superb executive with outstanding leadership skills, expertise and experience," said Parsons in a statement.  "Jeff Bewkes and I are very pleased that Bill, along with his extraordinary management team, will be leading HBO into the future.  Today’s appointments highlight the depth and strength of HBO’s senior leadership.  Each of these executives has been instrumental in HBO’s success over the past 15 years.  We’re confident that, under their guidance, HBO’s edge will get even sharper, fresher and more pronounced.”

“I’ve worked with Bill, Hal, Eric and Richard for many years, and there’s not a more skilled, cohesive or widely respected group of executives in the entertainment industry," said Bewkes. 

“I’m excited by the opportunity to work with Dick, Jeff and my talented colleagues to carry on the vision that has fueled HBO’s success," said Nelson.