On the heels of Countdown host Keith Olbermann‘s firing from Current TV, the network and sources close to it have been quick to buttress their case for the dismissal with details of the temperamental star’s antics. One such source tells Mediaite, among other things, that Olbermann went through 8 different car services (he doesn’t drive), and complained to the network that some of the drivers “smelled,” and “talked to him”….
….In a statement following his dismissal, Olbermann said that “the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue,” and complained that the network didn’t keep its “promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program.”
But according to our source, Olbermann’s set, which was designed by production designer Jim Fengagen and cost about a quarter of a million dollars, was built to Olbermann’s specifications. When the set experienced some lighting problems in December, however, Olbermann not only refused to use the set, he ordered his crew not to use it even for guest hosts.
While Olbermann is threatening legal action, and I’m no lawyer, it’s tough to see how he has anything more than a balsawood leg to stand on, at least where his central complaint is concerned. Even the most casual observer, when faced with his gripe that the network wasn’t spreading the cheddar around, would have to say “What did you expect?”
Olbermann went into this knowing that Current was pushing all of its chips (literally and figuratively) in on him, and that there would be some lean times for the network (not for Olbermann, who reportedly received about $50k per show) while they built their schedule, and their audience. Olbermann even acknowledged as much on a press call hyping the re-launch of Countdown, discussing the ways in which the network would work around its lack of resources with elbow grease and adaptability. For him to wake up a few months later and say “Where’s the money, honey?” (even as his pockets were stuffed with it) smacks of bad faith. Ditto the kabuki scheduling theater he engineered over the network’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses in January.
In addition to hissy fits about the car service and the set, the network says Olbermann refused to promote the network. According to our source, that included not allowing Current to promote the show when he was absent (almost half the time in January and February), the guest host or the program, including barring staff from sending out Twitter updates, and not allowing the guest host to promote the program.