You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Primary issues for Olbermann, Current

Newsie will skip New Hamphire, but net says he'll be in on other primaries

After a very public falling out with MSNBC last year, Current TV hired Keith Olbermann at great expense (reportedly $50 million over five years, including a stake in the tiny cabler). But last Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses came and went without Olbermann weighing in for Current.

Now, Olbermann is deferring participation in the New Hampshire primary as well, citing a “preplanned vacation” during one of the biggest political events of the primary season. David Shuster is filling in on “Countdown” this week, the network said.

Olbermann, who communicated with both the press (and apparently his colleagues at Current) largely through Twitter, said he was “informed Countdown will not be on tonight” on Jan. 3. “I must defer on all questions to @JoelHyatt @AlGore and @Current.” Olbermann was invited to participate in the caucuses but appeared to have declined to do so without informing the staff of his show.

For followers of the journo’s career, the story sounded awfully familiar. Last year saw Olbermann’s abrupt departure from the Peacock’s news cabler, where the network had more or less built its primetime schedule around “Countdown” — a schedule that can now stand on its own but depended heavily on Olbermann’s rabble-rousing commentary in its early years.

Current, obviously, hopes to replicate that success — no mean feat, considering that the network doesn’t have a wealthy parent company to absorb any missteps. And, until recently, things looked good. The show brought viewers from MSNBC and sparked new growth in a network that has been batting cleanup on the Nielsen ranker more or less since its founding.

With Olbermann drawing attention, Current hired David Bohrman, formerly chief innovation officer at CNN, to help the network build a larger news operation. Many have questioned whether the hire rankled with Olbermann, who was announced last June in a managerial role at the network in addition to his on-air position.

According to sources at both other publications and in the cable news world, however, Olbermann has grown unhappy with frequent technical glitches that plague “Countdown” in its new home.

Current, for its part, seems anxious to let everyone know that tensions eased over the weekend, but the network is now in the position of having to ask nicely, at least if it wants further participation from its flagship show’s leading personality.

“Keith has agreed to host future special election coverage on Current,” the net said on Monday via a spokeswoman. “We hope that this will start after New Hampshire. We’re looking forward to insightful and impactful 2012 election analysis.”

Olbermann confirmed (on Twitter, of course) that he’ll continue to cover the election for the net, but it’s not clear what form that coverage will take.

More TV

  • Paula Kaplan

    Viacom Digital Studios' Paula Kaplan Expands Role to Oversee Talent for Nickelodeon

    Paula Kaplan, the executive vice president of talent and development at Viacom Digital Studios, is expanding her role to new include overseeing talent for Nickelodeon. Kaplan’s new title will be executive vice president of talent and development for Viacom Digital Studios and EVP of talent for Nickelodeon. Kaplan will report to both Brian Robbins, president [...]

  • THE MAGICIANS -- Pictured: (l-r) Trevo

    'The Magicians' Renewed for Season 5 at Syfy, Adds New Co-Showrunner

    Syfy has renewed “The Magicians” for a fifth season just ahead of the fourth season premiere. The show has also promoted Henry Alonso Myers to co-showrunner for the fifth season. “‘The Magicians’ raised the bar at Syfy and has gained momentum season after season, attracting a new audience to the channel. We are proud of [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Kaye Ballard, Star of 'The Mothers-in-Law,' Dies at 93

    Singer-comedienne Kaye Ballard, who starred alongside Eve Arden in the 1960s sitcom “The Mothers-in-Law” and was among the stars of the 1976 feature based on Terrence McNally’s farce “The Ritz,” died Monday in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 93. She had recently attended a screening of a documentary about her life, “Kaye Ballard: The Show [...]

  • Animated cast of OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT.

    'Our Cartoon President' Renewed for Season 2 at Showtime (EXCLUSIVE)

    Showtime has renewed the animated comedy “Our Cartoon President” for a second season, Variety has learned exclusively. The 10-episode second season is slated to debut later this year. Stephen Colbert executive produces along with Chris Licht and showrunner R.J. Fried. Tim Luecke serves as lead animator and co-executive producer. Matt Lappin serves as consulting producer. The [...]

  • Michael Strahan

    Michael Strahan, Endemol Shine North America to Develop U.S. Version of 'Money Drop'

    Endemol Shine North America is teaming up with Michael Strahan’s SMAC Entertainment to develop a U.S. version of the game show “The Money Drop.” Originally launched in 2010 as “The Million Pound Drop Live” by Endemol UK’s Remarkable Television for Channel 4, the format has now been produced locally by Endemol Shine Group in 54 [...]

  • BBC Buys Australian Psychological Thriller Series

    BBC Buys Australian Psychological Thriller Series ‘Safe Harbour'

    The BBC has bolstered its international drama lineup, acquiring Australian limited series “Safe Harbour” and inking deals for new seasons of shows from Canada, France and Iceland. The shows will all run on the U.K. pubcaster’s BBC Four channel. “Safe Harbour” is a psychological thriller that played on pubcaster SBS in Australia. It follows a [...]

  • It's Time For Another 'Punisher' Video

    It's Time For Another 'Punisher' Video Game

    Last year saw the release of the most recent iteration of a Spidey game, “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” developed by Insomniac Games. “Marvel’s Spider-Man” smashed all kinds of records. It dethroned “God of War” as the fastest-selling Sony-exclusive of all time and it achieved launch month sales 37% higher than the launch month sales of every previous [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content