Keith on the Brain

At the premiere of 4th and Forever, a focus on Olbermann's new show

Last night, Current TV hosted an intimate gathering at the Tribeca Grand screening room in downtown Manhattan to premier "4th And Forever," a new unscripted series that follows a high school football team and its star players in Long Beach, California. The new show looked good, but the real message of the evening was clear.

The screening came less than a month after the announcement of Keith Olbermann’s new political commentary show, "Countdown," which is set to premier on June 20th. In his introductory remarks, it was Olbermann, not "4th and Forever," that Current co-founder Joel Hyatt spent nearly all of his time talking about.

“We’re just getting started,” Hyatt said less than a minute into his remarks. “We’re enormously excited that beginning June 20th… [we’ll] have Countdown with Keith Olbermann…. Keith has the ability to do all the things that Al [Gore] and I envisioned when we wanted to create a media company.” Just before handing the floor over to Current CEO Mark Rosenthal, Hyatt said “Tonight we’re going to tell you about something else we’re really excited about.”

As the network gears up for the "Countdown" premiere, it’s clear that the show is quickly becoming something of a nucleus at a cable channel that has marched along in relative obscurity since its founding in 2005. In 2009, Current shifted from a format that focused on web-style user generated programming to a more traditional TV format, with 30- and 60-minute shows. Olbermann is the first big-name get since that overhaul—and sources at the network say that they’re starting to program around Countdown (though only one new show has been announced so far – “Vanguard” a weekly news magazine program, that also premieres June 20th and will follow Olbermann on Monday nights). The hope is that the Olbermann brand will be strong enough to help bring new eyeballs and, of course, new advertisers to the channel that Gore built.