Current counts on Olbermann boost

Cabler touts new programs, marketing push at upfront

Keith Olbermann had his official coronation as the new king of Current TV on Wednesday evening at the cabler’s upfront event in Gotham.

The newsman, who announced his move to Current on Tuesday, was introduced to ad buyers and journos at the Paley Center for Media to thunderous applause that didn’t subside until die until he took a bow.

“An online version of that is going on on Twitter and Facebook right now,” Current co-founder Al Gore joked. Olbermann opted for a little humility in his remarks after the over-the-top intro from Current bosses Gore and Joel Hyatt.

“This is the first chance I’ve had to say it in person to Al and Joel, though it’s the 337th time I’ve said it in the last two days: ‘Thank you, and I won’t screw it up too much,” Olbermann said. He said he didn’t consider any other offers after leaving MSNBC last month.

“(When you) hear the words ‘Al Gore trusts you to do the news,’ you do not check voicemail to see if there’s something better, because there isn’t,” he said.

Although Olbermann was the focus of the evening event, Current execs held a press sesh earlier in the day to show off some of the cabler’s new programming. The menu includes nine half-hours of “4th and Forever,” an unscripted series set at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, a Southern California institution boasting the largest number of former students to play in the NFL. Show is set to premiere at 10 p.m. on April 3. Also upcoming is the six-seg firefighting mini “Smoke Jumpers” and reruns of Showtime’s “This American Life.”

Will Wright tubthumped his upcoming sci-fi skein “Bar Karma,” which is assembled through “crowdsourcing” stories submitted via the Internet. The show revolves around a mysterious bar at the edge of the universe.

Creators Wright and Albie Hecht described the headache-inducing process of putting together the various episodes from the publicly available story editor tool created by Wright. “The crowd is basically brainstorming and picking out the best ideas, and the editorial team is picking out the best one, and then the crowd votes,” Wright explained. The Show bows Friday night at 10.

The development slate included “Doctors Without Borders,” about the eponymous charity org, and “Headlines that Shocked America.”

Fielding a question about the net’s lack of visibility, Current CEO Mark Rosenthal said, “We’ve been quiet about Current in the past, but we’re not going to be quiet anymore.” Rosenthal confirmed that the net would be advertising its wares in print and on other nets in the future.

“To be candid, the one I’m most worried about is Keith’s show,” quipped Gore, “because he’s so shy.”

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