Time Warner's chief operating officer, Jeff Bewkes, who made the announcement, also promoted Harold Akselrad, Eric Kessler and Richard Plepler, to the newly created positions of co-president of HBO.
Mr. Akselrad, previously HBO's general counsel and exec VP-legal, business affairs and film programming, will oversee the legal and business affairs, film acquisition and HBO's technology groups in additional to retaining his general counsel duties. Mr. Kessler, previously president-sales and marketing, will oversee the marketing and worldwide distribution of HBO networks and content. Mr. Plepler, previously exec VP of HBO, will oversee the network's programming and corporate communications.
After Mr. Albrecht's abrupt departure from the network, rumors were rampant as to who might take his place. In addition to Mr. Nelson, Messrs. Kessler and Plepler were favored as the most likely in-house candidates for the gig. Then last week, Kevin Reilly became a last-minute possibility after getting knocked out as entertainment president at NBC. The Reilly rumors, however, were based on industry speculation, given his track record for developing HBO-esque dramas such as "Studio 60" and "The Shield" at NBC and FX, respectively.
Of his new role, Mr. Nelson said in a statement, "I'm excited by the opportunity to work with [Time Warner Chairman-CEO] Dick [Parsons], Jeff and my talented colleagues to carry on the vision that has fueled HBO's success. That means continuing to develop a fertile, creative environment that generates the highest quality and most original entertainment, with a style and sensibility that is uniquely HBO's. At the same time, digital technologies present endless opportunities for us to deliver HBO programming to new audiences around the world."
Mr. Bewkes added, "I've worked with Bill, Hal, Eric and Richard for many years, and there's not a more skilled, cohesive or widely respected group of executives in the entertainment industry. They've helped build HBO into one of the world's most inventive and intelligent television companies. I'm looking forward to working with them to ensure that HBO continues to produce the kind of groundbreaking and award-winning entertainment that has become its hallmark."