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Since Current TV hired Keith Olbermann last February, the lesser-known cable network has been building primetime programming centered around the progressive heartthrob. But according to recent reports, the relationship is starting to fray.
First, Current claimed Olbermann declined their offer to anchor the network’s Iowa caucus coverage. A Current source, citing internal emails, told TPM that Olbermann was offered the chance to anchor multiple times. The source said she didn’t know why Olbermann declined.
Olbermann told The Hollywood Reporter that isn’t the whole story. “I was not given a legitimate opportunity to host under acceptable conditions,” he said in a statement. “They know it and we know it. Telling half the story is wrong.” And now Olbermann’s lawyers and Current’s lawyers are “communicating,” Hollywood litigator Patricia Glaser told the Reporter. An anonymous Current executive told The Wrap that Olbermann’s future with the network is unclear.
“I hope Keith is part of our future, but it’s up to Keith,” the unnamed executive told The Wrap. Keith set us in the right direction and we’re on that path now … and as I’ve learned over the years, everybody is replaceable.”
Not a great quote for a company that positioned “Countdown” as its flagship primetime show — it’s barely been on the air six months. Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur round out the before-and-after slots. Granholm’s program debuts this month.
“Keith knows exactly what it’s like to come in and do that anchor show that gets the network off and running,” Current co-founder and CEO Joel Hyatt told TPM in August.
TPM’s source at Current spoke highly of Olbermann. He has been invited to anchor election coverage of New Hampshire’s presidential primary on Tuesday. “We are hopeful he joins next week,” she said.
An Olbermann spokesperson declined to comment.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com