HBO inks Rich deal with Times columnist

Frank Rich hired as a creative consultant

HBO has enlisted New York Times columnist Frank Rich as a creative consultant.

While remaining at his day job, Rich will contribute to the network's original programming development.

Citing a long-standing friendship with the columnist, Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo, president of HBO's programming group and West Coast operations, respectively, sought to formalize a relationship with him.

"As we started talking, it began to be clear we had a clear vision of the kinds of things we wanted to do together," Plepler said.

As a result of his connection to HBO, Rich will not write for the Times on anything relating to Time Warner or HBO, though he can write a disclaimer divulging his connection should something he write about tangentially touch on the conglomerate.

"It's pretty easy to avoid, and not the subject of my columns," said Rich, who cleared his involvement with his employer.

Rich said he is far from alone at the newspaper in terms of employees with extracurricular roles at TV networks. Political writer John Harwood and technology columnist David Pogue, for instance, moonlight on CNBC.

Rich also could be in position to become a producer on an HBO project he helps shepherd. He is not expected to contribute in any on-air role.

They declined to elaborate on any specific projects or topics on which they are already collaborating, citing the "embryonic" status of the newly cemented relationship.

HBO doesn't typically hire creative consultants, though Plepler added that it is not something the network is looking to do on a regular basis.
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