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Chris Albrecht's e-mail misfire led to McGurk and Rosett's exit from Overture

July 13, 2010 |  4:19 pm
Blackberry Here's a cautionary tale about writing e-mail on a BlackBerry courtesy of Starz President Chris Albrecht.

On July 1, Albrecht touched down in Majorca, Spain, for a vacation. Like any good executive, he checked his BlackBerry. He read an e-mail from two senior Starz executives concerning the future of Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett, the chief executive and chief operating officer, respectively, of Overture Films, a unit of Starz. The fate of Overture has been in question for months as Starz and parent Liberty Media are assessing its viability.

Albrecht tapped out his response to the two executives, suggesting that upon his return July 12 they should discuss removing McGurk and Rosett. However, instead of responding to the e-mail that he'd received from the two executives, he mistakenly replied to a different e-mail about letting Starz employees work half a day on Friday, July 2.Albrecht

As a result, his note went to approximately 400 Starz employees and senior executives -- including McGurk and Rosett.

Realizing his goof, Albrecht immediately called Bill Myers, president of Starz Entertainment, to inform him of the error. During their conversation, McGurk called Albrecht and told him that he had seen the e-mail. Later that day, McGurk and Rosett tendered their resignations.

 Before Albrecht left town, he and the two Overture executives had a meeting to discuss the marketing spending on three movies set for release this fall. The two sides disagreed over how much money was needed to promote them.

Allan Mayer, a spokesman for Starz, confirmed the events to The Times.

"Chris Albrecht inadvertently sent an e-mail to the whole company that was supposed to go just to senior executives at Starz," he said. "In it, he discussed the removal of Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett. It was an unfortunate and embarrassing mistake and Albrecht and the company immediately apologized to McGurk and Rosett."

McGurk For the last six months, McGurk and Rosett had been trying to find a buyer for Overture after John Malone, who controls Starz parent Liberty Media, made it clear he had lost interest in the movie business and was looking to unload the company and its sister home video distributor and animation operations. Like other small independent studios, several of which have shut down, Overture has had a decidedly mixed track record at the box office in its three-year existence.

There are currently two bidders for Overture and its 16-film library, according to a person familiar with the situation: investor brothers Alec and Tom Gores and Los Angeles-based private equity firm Aurora Resurgence.

An Aurora executive did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the Gores brothers declined to comment.

The fate of the Beverly Hills company and its 67 employees, including marketing and distribution chief Peter Adee, who took over day-to-day operations after McGurk and Rosett left, is up in the air.

"The company is still exploring a variety of options," Mayer said. "And no decision has been made."

-- Claudia Eller and Ben Fritz

Top photo: A BlackBerry Bold 2. Credit: Mark Blinch / Reuters. Middle photo: Chris Albrecht. Credit: Joshua Caine / Liberty Media. Bottom photo: Chris McGurk. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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