Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara is exiting the company after making international headlines for his alleged involvement in a sex for acting roles scheme.
“It is in the best interest of WarnerMedia, Warner Bros., our employees and our partners for Kevin to step down as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros.,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said Monday in a statement to the media.
“Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio’s success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him. Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company’s leadership expectations and could impact the company’s ability to execute going forward,” the statement continued.
Tsujihara had been CEO of Warner Bros. since 2013. Earlier this month he was promoted to head of WarnerMedia’s movie and television divisions, and given the title of chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment after AT&T acquired Time Warner.
Days later, The Hollywood Reporter published an investigative report detailing alleged inappropriate behavior by Tsujihara. The publication said it reviewed “hundreds of texts, emails and a draft settlement agreement” for the March 6 expose that alleged Tsujihara helped actress Charlotte Kirk obtain roles during an apparent extramarital affair after they met in 2013.
In one message, Tsujihara told the then 21-year-old actress he would arrange meetings with studio executives on Warner Bros. film and TV projects. Texts showed the scheme involved two other Hollywood power brokers, Australian billionaire and film financier James Packer and Rush Hour director, Brett Ratner.
In a Feb. 2014 text exchange, Kirk asked Tsujihara if he had talked to his “guys” about a television show she auditioned for.
“Yes,” he responded before telling her intervening on behalf of an up-and-coming actress was beneath his pay grade. “I don’t usually call about casting about these types of roles. It’s fine, I just need to be careful,” he said.
After the projects didn’t materialize as quickly as expected, Kirk reportedly wrote in a March 2015 text: “You’re very busy I know but when we were in that motel having sex u said u would help me and when u just ignore me like you’re doing now it makes me feel used.”
Kirk was eventually cast in the 2016 Warner Bros. film How to Be Single and 2018’s Ocean’s 8.
Amid fallout from the article, Tsujihara apologized for “mistakes in my personal life” in a letter to employees, adding: “I realized some time ago you are right to expect more from me and I set a course to do better. That journey continues.”
The journey ended after WarnerMedia hired an outside law firm to investigate the allegations.
Meanwhile Kirk denied any type of “impropriety.”
“Through her spokesperson, the actress has publicly denied any impropriety in her casting, and our prior investigation did not find otherwise,” a WarnerMedia rep told THR in a statement earlier this month.
WarnerMedia said today it “continues to work with a third-party law firm to complete its investigation with Mr. Tsujihara’s cooperation.”
His replacement has not yet been named.