At issue is whether Keith Olbermann controls the 8 PM (ET) time slot on Current — or just his show, Countdown With Keith Olbermann, which typically fills the hour. I’m told that the commentator and his powerhouse lawyer Patricia Glaser are reviewing his contract to decide how to proceed after Current preempted his show last night to cover the Republican caucuses in Iowa with Al Gore, Jennifer Granholm, and Cenk Uygur. Olbermann isn’t on board yet to contribute to next week’s coverage of the New Hampshire primary, although Current still wants him to participate. But something would have to give: The control issue was a big deal for Olbermann last year when he left MSNBC and joined Current as an anchor and chief news officer. Current also believes that it has the right to shape its coverage of special events, and has a unique opportunity this year to make a splash by having Gore — a former vice president, and the channel’s co-founder – as part of the mix.
The rift has been building since mid-November when Current president David Bohrman broached the idea of having Olbermann lead the network’s team coverage. The commentator opted to have Countdown run per usual and said on his December 22 broadcast that he’d be back after the holidays “live, live, live” for the Iowa caucus results. Olbermann continued with his plan until yesterday when READ MORE »
UPDATE, 8:10 PM: Reached late Thursday, Rosenthal said “Joel and I always had a great collaboration and we remain close friends. And Joel was instrumental in negotiating for Keith Olbermann to come to Current.”
PREVIOUS, 4:15 PM: Mark Rosenthal decided to leave because Joel Hyatt was crowding him in, we’re told. The co-founder wanted to run Current again after Rosenthal recruited Keith Olbermann to come on board. The channel began to generate a lot of buzz as its focus shifted to news commentary and politics as opposed to long form non-fiction programming. Hyatt’s desire to run the operation reached the point where he and Rosenthal agreed a few months ago to be co-CEOs, although the company didn’t announce that change. But the the channel’s too small to require two chiefs. What’s more, Rosenthal had held bigger jobs by himself when he was CEO of Interpublic Media and COO of MTV Networks. He was a board member at Current when Hyatt asked him to step in and professionalize the programming, marketing, affiliate sales, ad sales, and research efforts at the channel that used to be based in San Francisco. Olbermann’s said to be upset by Rosenthal’s decision to leave his job and the Current board. But even Current’s most famous personality doesn’t have the clout to overrule Hyatt.
PREVIOUS, 3:03 PM: Current TV has just released this statement about its CEO Mark Rosenthal leaving the network, a little more than a month after the premiere of the revamping network’s new flagship news show Countdown With Keith Olbermann. Co-founder Joel Hyatt is replacing him. The statement: Read More »
If you used to watch Countdown With Keith Olbermann when it was on MSNBC, then you have a pretty good idea what it’s like on Current based on the first show tonight. The theme music from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the “Worst … Read More »
Will there be any substantive difference between Countdown With Keith Olbermann, which debuts Monday night on Current, and its most direct competitor, MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell? Don’t ask Olbermann. “I haven’t seen Lawrence’s show,” he told reporters on Friday. “I have not watched MSNBC for more than five minutes since I left it” in January. But viewers and especially MSNBC executives might be surprised to hear that Olbermann says he felt a “self-chilling effect” there to tone down his commentaries out of fear that he might “honk somebody off” at another NBCUniversal unit or in the news operation. Praising the “purity” of Current, he says that, ”even in writing the practice shows, I’ve stopped myself from stopping myself.”
Olbermann warned reporters in a conference call not to be swayed by ratings “bullshit” as rivals release data showing that few people will be watching his new show. ”We’re in this for the long haul,” he said, adding that there are no set audience targets. If just 10 technicians for the show can see it on Monday, “that would be a satisfactory audience.” Current reaches about 60 million cable and satellite homes, which puts it at a disadvantage to MSNBC, which goes to about 97 million and Fox News at about 102 million.
Olbermann said that actor Donald Sutherland will frequently appear on the show as a commentator. Other newly announced regulars are Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi; former Nixon White House counsel John Dean; activist group Demos’ Heather McGhee; law professor Jonathan Turley; comedian Maysoon Zayid; Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts; and reporters Kate Sheppard and Jeremy Scahill. Read More »
David Sarosi of Keith Olbermann’s old Countdown show on MSNBC has been named executive producer of Olbermann’s new Countdown on Current TV, which will premiere June 20. “Nobody knows what Countdown should be, more than Dave Sarosi,” said Olbermann, host of Countdown With Keith Olbermann and Chief News Officer at … Read More »
Keith Olbermann’s new show on Al Gore’s Current TV will have the same name as his old one on MSNBC — Countdown With Keith Olbermann. It will also air in Olbermann’s old 8 PM slot beginning June 20, 2011. Olbermann … Read More »
On his first show in the 8 PM time slot on MSNBC previously occupied by Keith Olbermann, Lawrence O’Donnell last night talked about what Olbermann’s tenure meant for the channel and for him personally. “I know that I now occupy a platform built for me by Keith Olbermann,” he said. … Read More »
In his first public statement since his farewell address on the final episode of Countdown last Friday, former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann took to Twitter to thank his supporters and assure them he’ll be back. “My humble thanks to all Friends of Keith for the many kind words,” he just … Read More »
Here’s the statement that just came out from MSNBC President Phil Griffin. Well, that’s one way to goose the cable network’s seriously sagging ratings:
After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night’s program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our
… Read More »