Time Warner President Jeffrey Bewkes, heir apparent to CEO Richard Parsons, should be having a great week. The company's annual stockholders meeting happens today in sunny Burbank, and Bewkes is expected to be formally announced as the guy who gets the gig. But that pesky Chris Albrecht thing—the former HBO honcho whose fists did some allegedly excessive hugging on his girlfriend's neck outside a casino in Vegas—keeps coming up in the press. And for good reason! It wasn't the first time!
Back in 1991, Albrecht had an "altercation" with a subordinate he was dating at the time. Bewkes signed off on a half million dollar settlement and got the gal to leave the company and keep her mouth shut. (If it had only been a decade or two earlier—then these broads would had kept their mouths shut in the first place, and they probably wouldn't have gotten the beatings. Damn feminists.) Was this a proper use of corporate monies?
"I think it's a blatant abuse of shareholder funds," said Susan Shultz, a corporate governance executive with the Board Institute in Phoenix. "It impugns the integrity of a company and tarnishes the brand. There ought to be transparency in these cases. It seems very inappropriate that one, the money was spent, and two, that it was not disclosed."
Less emotional observers (i.e., male analysts) express fewer concerns. It basically boils down to this:
- Time Warner makes a ton of money.
- Who in Hollywood hasn't smacked around a yappy employee that they're also fucking at one time or another?
- Bewkes did the right thing by firing Albrecht as soon as the incident was made public and it became apparent that it wasn't going to blow over.
- Seriously, we're talking a lot of money here. Who gives a shit about some secret settlement? You ask me, the chick was lucky she mouthed off to a valuable HBO employee! We would so take a couple of cracks to the face for half a mil.
- Nutshell: If you're pulling in enough cash, you are not expendable. At least until you administer the second beating. Here endeth the lesson. Good luck with the new job, Jeff!
- Exec faces fallout from HBO payout [LAT]