It took plenty of legal wrangling and an extended four-day hearing, but Adelphia Communications Corp. finally got its men late Tuesday.

A bankruptcy judge gave his blessing to the MSO's hiring of William Schleyer as chairman and CEO and Ronald Cooper as president and COO.

The hiring of those two men — execs with AT&T Broadband before it merged with Comcast Corp. — had come under fire because of a compensation package that Adelphia shareholders viewed as excessive. The package will pay Schleyer and Cooper a combined $41 million over three years.

Adelphia, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2002 in the midst of a financial scandal involving the founding Rigas family, had countered that it needed to pay what was required to secure who it believed could best help the company emerge from bankruptcy.

Still, the court rejected a severance element that reportedly would have allowed Schleyer to receive $7.65 million if he decided to step down and the Adelphia board moved to appoint an independent chairman. The court approved Cooper's contract without any modification.

Cooper and Schleyer, who have served as non-officer employees of the company since January 17, begin their new, formalized posts immediately.

"We begin the restructuring effort with a skilled and dedicated employee base, a core commitment to customer service, an advanced set of cable and broadband offerings and strong operations in eight regions nationwide," Schleyer and Cooper said, in a prepared statement. "These significant assets will enable us to hit the ground running in our effort to better serve Adelphia's customers and regain the confidence of all stakeholders."