Former HBO honcho relaunches Foresee
Chris Albrecht has ankled IMG after less than a year at the global sports and entertainment firm.Albrecht signed a three-year deal with IMG in September to serve as head of IMG Global Media and a special limited partner in Forstmann Little & Co. — the private equity firm, headed by Ted Forstmann, that owns IMG. Albrecht and Forstmann planned to raise a $250 million fund for investments in media and entertainment content. But in a terse statement released by IMG Tuesday, Albrecht’s departure was blamed on the firm’s inability to raise those funds. “While Albrecht acknowledges that IMG has world-class media production and distribution businesses in both sports and entertainment, when he joined the company in September 2007 the parties intended to raise substantial funds to augment and expand IMG’s media and entertainment business,” the statement said. “However, market conditions intervened to frustrate that goal. The parties are separating on an amicable basis, regretful that the association was unable to work.” IMG has no plans to replace Albrecht, the company said. Albrecht will relaunch his Foresee Entertainment, an independent content creation, development and distribution company he founded in 2007 before joining IMG. It’s another quick turn of events for Albrecht, whose sudden departure from HBO stunned the industry last year. Time Warner dismissed Albrecht from his longtime post as the pay cabler’s chairman/ CEO last year after he was arrested in connection with assaulting his girlfriend in Las Vegas — and an earlier altercation with a female employee was brought to light. The exec joined IMG three months later. Soon after, he sold the Brit series “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” — produced by IMG’s U.K. shingle Tiger Aspect — to Showtime. Albrecht also struck a partnership with reality producer Andrew Glassman (“Average Joe”) to produce and distribute unscripted projects. And IMG formed a joint venture with Mike Tollin Prods. to launch a league surrounding the basketball-like sport slamball. At IMG Global Media, Albrecht had started to put together an entertainment team, hiring Rob Lee to serve as head of programming, and tapping former HBO exec Carmi Zlotnik as head of operations. Another HBO alum, John Penney, was brought onboard to spearhead new business strategies. An IMG spokesman said production and development under Zlotnik and Lee will remain unchanged. Less certain is the fate of IMG’s negotiations with reality guru Mark Burnett to acquire at least a chunk of his production company. Forstmann had been heavily courting Burnett, and had been asking for as much as $500 million for the shingle. Talks heated up in late June but later fell apart. Sources close to the talks said they’re not completely dead, but there’s nothing new to report. Prior to Albrecht’s arrival, IMG had operated two production arms in the U.K. — Tiger Aspect and Darlow Smithson. The company is also home to hefty sports and fashion divisions. IMG’s various entities hold broadcast rights to several sports events, and the company produces and distributes more than 11,000 hours of programming a year.