HBO's Albrecht steps down in wake of Las Vegas arrest

COO Nelson to run network in interim

Chris Albrecht is stepping down as chairman and CEO of HBO, parent company Time Warner said Wednesday, in the wake of the highly publicized arrest that has ended his 22-year career at the network (HR 5/10).

"With great regret, at the request of Time Warner I have agreed to step down as chairman and CEO of HBO," Albrecht said in a statement issued by TW. "I take this step for the benefit of my HBO colleagues, recognizing that I cannot allow my personal circumstances to distract them from the business."

HBO COO Bill Nelson will take over Albrecht's duties on an interim basis.

Albrecht's departure came a day after he disclosed in an internal memo that he would take a temporary leave from the company in order to seek treatment with Alcoholics Anonymous. The memo suggested alcohol might have played a part in an incident Sunday morning in Las Vegas in which he was arrested on misdemeanor charges because of an alleged fight with his girlfriend outside the MGM Grand casino.

HBO insiders say Al-brecht had been regarded as a ticking time bomb in recent months as his struggle with alcohol became more visible within the company. "He wouldn't drink heavily around anybody, just a glass of wine here or there," a source said. "But you could tell something was not right with him."

Sources say TW had become increasingly concerned about the distraction Albrecht's PR nightmare was causing, especially after a Los Angeles Times report Wednesday citing allegations that in 1991 Albrecht had been involved in a physical altercation with a female employee at HBO, which was forced to pay a $400,000 settlement.

A source said Albrecht's contract was set to expire in six months.