Chris Albrecht’s Past Is Prologue

Chris Albrecht
TV executive Chris Albrecht. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
October 13, 2022

A text came in from a TV executive the other day: “Why is Albrecht out? Didn’t we know all this?” We did and we didn’t, and in the Hollywood of 2022, the past is only sometimes in the past, it seems. I’ll explain. 

Since late February, the TV executive Chris Albrecht has been quietly fighting with Viking, the publisher of a new book about HBO. At issue: How, exactly, his abusive past behavior would be characterized. Albrecht, if you don’t know him, is one of those confounding Hollywood figures: super smart and talented—he’s credited with shepherding The Sopranos, Sex and the City and Six Feet Under during an epic 22-year run at HBO—and, at least during certain periods of his life, super troubled and problematic. He was famously fired by Time Warner in 2007 after an altercation with his girlfriend in Las Vegas during which he allegedly “choked” and “assaulted” her, according to the police report. And in the media frenzy around that arrest, it was revealed that HBO had quietly settled another claim in 1991 by an executive who dated Albrecht and alleged that he had choked her in her Century City office.

Grim stuff, and a life sentence in Executive Jail if it happened today. But all of that took place in the BH Times (Before Harvey), and Hollywood has a mixed view of evaluating past conduct through the MeToo lens. Les Moonves, Bryan Singer, Woody Allen, and more were purged over bad actions that occurred well before 2017. And yet others continue to work, having either sufficiently atoned for their behavior or successfully kept themselves away from scrutiny. (Yes, I know that every situation is different; I’m not comparing anyone to anyone.)