HBO's Albrecht on leave after Vegas arrest

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HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht is taking a leave of absence pending the outcome of his arrest last weekend in Las Vegas, parent company Time Warner Inc. said Tuesday.

In an internal memo Albrecht sent to HBO staffers Tuesday, he suggested that personal problems with alcohol played a part in his difficulties and that he was taking leave in order to enter treatment with Alcoholics Anonymous.

"Two years ago, I decided that I could handle drinking again," he wrote. "Clearly I was wrong."

HBO COO Bill Nelson will assume his duties in the interim.

Albrecht was "granted, at his request, a leave of absence pending the resolution of the police incident that occurred Sunday in Las Vegas," TW said in a statement.

"We take these matters very seriously and will monitor this situation closely," TW chairman and CEO Richard Parsons added.

Albrecht was arrested early Sunday outside the MGM Grand after a physical altercation with his girlfriend. He was in Las Vegas for HBO Pay Per View's Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. boxing match Saturday night. After the arrest, Albrecht was booked into the Clark County jail and released on his own recognizance 12 hours later. No court date has been set.

In the memo, Albrecht said that while he was not at "liberty to discuss the incident as the district attorney and my lawyer are still determining the facts, it is my hope to do so in the near future." He described the incident as a "wake-up call to me of a weakness I thought I had overcome long ago. I had been a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 13 years.

"Given that truth, I have committed myself to sobriety," he added. "I intend to take a temporary leave of absence from HBO, effective today, in order to go back to working with AA."

Albrecht also offered apologies to his family and company for the "embarrassment."

"Leading this company is a great privilege, and I pray that I can continue to do so in a manner that brings honor and pride to this remarkable organization and its remarkable people. Thank you for your understanding during these difficult hours; I will not let you down again."

Albrecht joined HBO in 1985 as a senior vp original programming, West Coast, and played a key role in the premium cable network's transformation into a TV powerhouse. He was named chairman and CEO in 2002.

Georg Szalai reported from New York. Nellie Andreeva reported from Los Angeles.
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