Keith Olbermann lands a paycheck to match his ego at Current TV
In a wide-ranging interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the new Current TV host says that his former bosses at MSNBC -- as you may recall, the Ted Baxter-ish host and the cable news network parted ways back in January -- are already missing him. In fact, his absence has left a vacuum so profound, things are still pretty vacuum-y over there.
"I don’t think my former employers thought this was going to turn out quite this way. I just don’t think they thought they’d be in competition with me, so fast or at all," he told the Reporter, "and my understanding is this has left a certain tension over there."
Olbermann says it was everyone's favorite villain, former NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker, who did him in, as the network hallways were abuzz with speculation during the company's merger with Comcast.
"One surprisingly accurate bit of speculation on every floor of the building was, 'I betcha they don't keep Jeff,' " Olbermann said. "And apparently he heard that I had said this. I was there and I was a convenient punching bag and everybody would believe everything they said about me." While it's unclear whether he's confirming or denying that he gossiped merrily about his boss, the result was he lost his gig on NBC's NFL pregame show, Olbermann says.
Luckily for him, he landed well at Current TV. The Reporter says he'll make $10 million a year at Al Gore's cable network, a hefty increase over his $7 million salary as host of MSNBC's "Countdown."
Olbermann also admits he couldn't help but crack open the new tell-all book about ESPN, another of his former employers. (One colleague reports that the staff felt "joy" at Olbermann's departure from the sports network.) But he's worried that too many pages are taken with tales of people no one cares about.
"Honestly, hearing which executive thinks he was most responsible for the success of the place is probably not going to interest people who are picking up the book to find out how big of a jackass I am," he said. "Was I not a big enough jackass? Do I need to go back and jackass some more?"
"Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will premiere on Current on June 20.
In response to the Hollywood Reporter story, Olberman tweeted "not all of this is correct."
Trackers, what do you think of Olbermann?
-- Scott Collins
Photo: Keith Olbermann in 2008. Credit: Fred Prouser / Reuters