In this undated photo released by Cuttent TV, commentator Keith...

In this undated photo released by Cuttent TV, commentator Keith Olbermann is shown. Olbermann's new show, Countdown With Keith Olbermann" on Current TV premieres on June 20, 2011. Credit: AP

Brash, outspoken, obnoxious, funny, talented, angry, intensely liberal, and full of himself . . . yes, Keith Olbermann is back. He returns to TV Monday night. Same time (8 p.m.). Same show ("Countdown with Keith Olbermann"). New network (Current TV). There are lots of questions. Let's get to some of them.

What will the new show be, exactly?

As Olbermann explained to Jimmy Fallon on Thursday's "Late Night," "it's as close to the same [MSNBC show] as legally permissible." There will be contributors and some familiar faces from the MSNBC days, including Heather McGhee, a finance reform specialist, Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law professor, and former MSNBC anchor David Shuster, who will fill in as substitute anchor. The boldface name contributors are Ken Burns, Richard Lewis, Donald Sutherland and Michael Moore.

Why Current TV?

Lightly viewed Current -- not available on Cablevision, by the way -- is in the midst of a build-out with Olbermann as lead architect. The idea is to brand the network as a news/opinion network in the mold of MSNBC, with a similar left-leaning slant. Olbermann brings -- this goes without saying -- a definite persona and political viewpoint to Current that is supposed to erase the muddled image it has had since Al Gore and Joel Hyatt launched it in 2005.

Why did Olbermann take on the challenge?

Well, there is the matter of money -- a $50-million salary over five years, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, disputed by Olbermann as "exaggerated" during a conference call with reporters Friday. Beyond that, freedom to say whatever he wants and the support to build what he wants. "When you get into an operation that's too big" -- the obligatory thinly veiled reference to former employers, including Comcast, which owns a small stake of Current -- "you run into sort of a chilling effect." For the last month, he's posted commentary on the Current TV website, and he's learned to "sort of stop myself from stopping myself." Meanwhile, Olbermann has the title of chief news officer and a small ownership stake in the channel.

Who will Olbermann hire?

He's the boss now, and can hire people to fill shows that will ultimately air around his. He hinted to Fallon that he might even hire his old pal, Anthony Weiner.

Who will watch "Countdown?"

Of course, the ratings will be invisible at first, but Olbermann insists "there are no set targets." These things take time to build, and doubtless this will, too.

 

How to find him

 

How to watch "Countdown?" Current TV is not available on Cablevision, but can be found on DirecTV (Ch. 358), Dish Network (196), Time Warner Cable (103) and FiOs (192). If you don't subscribe to any of these services, you can turn to the web. Three clips from the show will be posted each night at current.com/countdown. Clips will also be shown on YouTube, Hulu, Fancast, iTunes and Metacafe. There are no plans to stream the show live.