Starz Hires Albrecht

Starz Entertainment has named the successor to outgoing CEO Robert Clasen, former Home Box Office honcho Chris Albrecht.

According to a statement, Albrecht will take over for the retiring Clasen on Jan. 1.

Albrecht will be working out of both Los Angeles and Starz's headquarters in Englewood, Colo.

"We are excited to have an industry leader with an exceptional track record join the Starz team," said Liberty Media president and CEO Greg Maffei in a statement. "With his extensive experience and success in creating compelling original content and building a premium pay channel, Chris is a recognized visionary in the creative community and uniquely qualified to lead Starz into the future."

Albrecht spent 22 years at HBO, the last five of which he was chairman. In May 2007 he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend after an HBO event in Las Vegas on the eve of the National Cable there. He stepped down later that month after the Los Angeles Times revealed that HBO had paid to settle a suit arising from another assault on a female co-worker several years earlier.

Albrecht landed at IMG, the international sports, entertainment and media company, leading its glolbal media business, in September 2007, before leaving the company the following year.

Albrecht's most recent position was founder of Foresee Entertainment, which constructs and executes business strategies that both anticipate and grow with the rapidly changing media landscape.

While at HBO, Albrecht was responsible for airing its most popular original programming, including The Sopranos and Sex and the City. The executive also had a hand in such current HBO hits as Big Love and Entourage.
It is that track record that Starz appears ready to bank on. The premium channel is making a major push into original programming with current fare like Crash and Party Down. Next year, it plans to release its big-budget sword and sandal series - Spartacus: Blood and Sand - and earlier this week announced plans for a second season for the action-adventure series.
It appears that Starz parent Liberty Media also is hoping that Albrecht's knack for picking hits will rub off on the network.

"We have found the right set of skills and a record of success with Chris and are pleased to have him lead Starz," said Liberty Media chairman John Malone said in a statement.

Albrecht also appeared ready to take on the challenge.
"I am thrilled and honored to be asked to join a great company like Starz and to help take advantage of the challenges and opportunities emerging in media and entertainment," Albrecht said in a statement. "I have always seen Starz as a bold, entrepreneurial and growth-oriented brand - one that I believe will be a great home for me. I look forward to putting my experiences and interests to work with the talented management team at Liberty and Starz to create valued products for consumers and our affiliate partners."