Keith Olbermann Opens Up About Leaving MSNBC and His New Show

People were "forced to choose sides"

In the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann opened up about his decision to leave the network and about his new show on Al Gore’s Current TV. Olbermann told the magazine that things had started heading downhill at MSNBC after the death of Tim Russert, “one of his only allies” at the network. He was later pulled from NBC’s “Sunday Night Football Pre-Show,” which management said was because the show was interfering with his duties for MSNBC, but Olbermann claims the real reason was his gossiping that former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker might be fired.

Olbermann said that he began his final broadcast on MSNBC not knowing that it would be his last, and was told during a break that he had been released from his contract. After his departure, Olbermann said, “There were lots of people who were forced to choose sides,” including his “longtime mentee” Rachel Maddow, with whom he has not spoken since.

The article also has some new details about Olbermann’s Current TV show, also called “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” which will premiere June 20 at 8 p.m.—his old MSNBC time slot. “I just don’t think they thought they’d be in competition with me, so fast or at all, and my understanding is this has left a certain tension over there,” he said of the network.

The new show reportedly cost $15 million to produce, with the channel paying $5 million in upfront marketing. According to a source, Olbermann is making $10 million a year at his new home—a sizable increase from the $7 million he got at MSNBC—and is Current’s chief news officer, plus he has an equity stake in the company, meaning that he could make up to $100 million over the course of his five-year deal.